Research commercialisation is a process where the university’s research findings are transferred to the markets for commercial exploitation (technology transfer). The goal of technology transfer is to increase the societal and financial value of research. Research findings that have competitive advantage and respond to real market needs are suitable candidates for research commercialisation.
Research commercialisation isn’t necessarily a process that is detached from research; instead, it can be a part of enhancing the impact of research. High-level research stands at the very core of research commercialisation: it is all about finding solutions that can reform and improve our society and economic life, while at the same time forging new partnerships and looking for new ways to collaborate with business and industry.
Research commercialisation usually starts from an invention disclosure notification. The invention disclosure notification is a confidential description of an invention or some other significant expertise that might have commercial potential. The invention disclosure notification is used to describe the invention’s technical specifications, background research, advantages over existing solutions, ownership, and goals regarding the next steps. The filing of an invention disclosure notification marks the start of collaboration with the university’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services, and this collaboration will continue up until potential technology transfer.
The processing of the invention disclosure notification involves the confirmation of ownership in the invention, which helps to determine which of the parties – the university or the researcher – takes the lead regarding the next steps of the commercialisation process. Research commercialisation is led by the university when an invention is either fully or partially owned by the university.
The assessment of an invention’s commercial potential often involves an analysis of its protectability and technological readiness level, as well as of any possible corporate collaboration leading to its discovery, and the objectives set for publishing it. A plan on how to exploit the invention will be prepared in collaboration with the researchers.
Publishing is closely linked to the university's activities and thus also to research and inventions made in the course of research. Indeed, an invention disclosure notification should be filed as early on as possible so that the commercialisation process with regard to the assessment of the invention's exploitability can proceed while taking the needs of publishing and its timing into consideration.
Often, an invention described in the invention disclosure notification is still in its infancy in terms of its technological readiness level and commercial outlook. This makes it possible to apply for, e.g., Business Finland’s Research to Business (R2B) funding for the further development of the invention and its commercial potential. In addition to the further development of the invention, the need to protect it should also always be considered.
Any measures taken to protect the invention are based on case-specific consideration and decision-making. If the invention is regarded as having commercial potential, it is possible to protect the business activities it enables by, e.g., filing a patent application. Invention protection is planned in collaboration between the researchers, a suitable patent agency, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services. Since the researchers know their invention best, it is vital that they participate in the drafting of the patent application. The research findings can usually be published after the patent application has been filed.
Technology transfer can be realised in many ways, with licensing and sales being two of the alternatives. The rights in the invention can also be transferred as part of commissioned research. The rights to commercially exploit the invention can be transferred either to an existing company or to a new company established for the purpose. Technology transfer is always done under a separate agreement. The agreement will determine the remuneration payable, a fair value, for the rights to commercially exploit the invention. Usually, the remuneration involves a down payment and a percentage of the annual sales. In compliance with the principle of open science, the agreement will allow for the invention to be used for research and education purposes even after the technology has been transferred.
Commercialisation and monitoring
Up until this point, the commercialisation process has focused on preparing and implementing the transfer of technology. The actual commercialisation of research, i.e. concept design, production and marketing, will be carried out by the company receiving the technology transfer. The income generated by the commercial exploitation of the rights in the invention will be distributed to the researchers and their academic departments in accordance with the university’s Code on Inventions.
In questions relating to the commercialisation process, please contact Entrepreneurship and Innovation Services. You can find our contact information in UEF//Connect.