Commercialization Process

While the commercialization process may seem complicated or overwhelming, the team in the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) is here to help walk you through the typical steps. Note that these steps below can vary in sequence and often occur simultaneously.

Steps in the Commercialization Process

1. Research

Observations and experiments during research activities often lead to discoveries and inventions. An invention is any useful process, machine, composition of matter, or any new or useful improvement of the same. Often, multiple researchers may have contributed to the invention.

2. Pre-Disclosure

Early contact with the TTO is advised to discuss your invention and to gain guidance with respect to the disclosure, evaluation, and protection processes described below.

3. Invention Disclosure

This written notice of invention to the TTO begins the formal technology transfer process. An Invention Disclosure Form remains a confidential document and should fully document your invention so that the options for intellectual property protection and commercialization can be evaluated and pursued. You will be assigned a licensing professional that will guide you through the technology transfer process.

4. Assessment

This is the period in which your assigned licensing professional reviews the invention disclosure, conducts patent searches (if applicable), and analyzes the market and competitive technologies to determine the invention’s commercialization potential. This evaluation process, which may lead to a broadening or refinement of the invention, will guide the strategy on whether to focus on licensing to an existing company, creating a new business startup, or whether further research or development within the university would be beneficial for future commercialization potential.

5. Protection

This is the process in which protection for an invention is pursued. Patent protection, a common legal protection method, begins with the filing of a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and, when appropriate, foreign patent offices. Once a patent application has been filed, it typically will require several years and tens of thousands of dollars to obtain issued U.S. patents and potentially hundreds of thousands to obtain foreign patents. Other protection methods include copyright, trademark, trade secrets, and contractual use restrictions (e.g., for databases and materials).

6. Marketing

With your active involvement, the licensing professional will identify candidate companies that have the expertise, resources, and business networks to advance and bring your invention to market. This may involve partnering with an existing company or forming a startup. Your active involvement can dramatically enhance this process.

7a. Form a Startup

If creation of a new business startup has been chosen as the optimal commercialization path, the TTO will work to assist in explaining the process and discussing resources available in planning, forming, and finding funding for the startup.

7b. Existing Business Relationship

If the invention will best be commercialized by one or more existing companies, the licensing professional will seek potential licensees and work to identify mutual interests, goals and plans to fully commercialize the invention.

8. Licensing

A license agreement is a contract between CWRU and a third party in which the university’s rights to a technology are licensed (without relinquishing ownership) for financial and other benefits. A license agreement is used with both a new startup business or with an established company. An option agreement is sometimes used to enable a third party to evaluate the technology for a limited time prior to making a decision about licensing.

9. Commercialization

The licensee continues the advancement of the technology and makes other business investments to develop the product or service. This step may entail further development, regulatory approvals, sales and marketing support, training, and other activities.

10. Revenue

Revenues received by the university from licenses are distributed to all inventors and a portion reinvested back into the university to provide support for further research, education, and participation in the technology transfer process. This step is informed by our intellectual property policy

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Have questions about the commercialization process? We’re here to help.