Commercializing Your Idea

Technology commercialization is at the intersection of discovery, business, and intellectual property law. We are here to partner with you throughout the entire process to come to the best approach.

Commercialization Pathway: From Lab to Market

STEP 1: Innovation

Pitt research creates an innovation that has a value outside the lab.  Any research at the university has the potential to discover or create an invention that has commercial value.  The work and results leading to the discovery should be captured in lab notebook(s) and report(s) to help support an Invention Disclosure and potential IP protection.

STEP 2: Intellectual Property Disclosure

The researcher submits an idea or discovery to the University of Pittsburgh's Innovation Institute for potential IP Protection. If through your research you believe you may have developed an innovation with commercial potential, IP protection should be sought. Before you publish your data, present it at a conference, or otherwise share your ideas with outside parties, you should submit an invention disclosure to the Innovation Institute for evaluation and IP protection potential.

You may obtain an invention disclosure form and submit it online via the Innovation Institute website.

STEP 3: Intellectual Property Assessment

Licensing staff review the disclosure and make a recommendation for intellectual property protection. When you submit your invention disclosure to the Innovation Institute for commercial consideration, it is reviewed by the licensing team to determine the commercial merits of the submitted invention disclosure to inform which innovations the university should invest its limited time, money, and other resources. Historically an estimated 55 percent of all submitted disclosures are approved for IP protection.

STEP 4: IP Protection Filing

Licensing staff oversees the IP protection process. Working with outside legal counsel, patent application(s) may be filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office and/or foreign patent offices. Copyrights may be registered with the US Copyright Office. Patents and copyrights offer protected exclusivity for the IP for a limited term.

STEP 5: Commercialization Assessment

What is the best path to market? The Innovation Institute provides education programs, funding, and mentoring to decrease the opportunity risk and move the discovery closer to market. The University of Pittsburgh's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, through both the Innovation Institute and the Office of Industry and Economic Partnerships, can help determine the best path to market, either through a start-up or through licensing to an established company. Resources are available to help identify potential licensees, or work with you to start a business and find funding.

STEP 6: Start a Company or Find a Partner

STEP 6A: Start a Company

Platform technologies and innovations with broad applications may be suited to the formation of a startup, although leadership, competition, and barriers to market entry also influence the decision. Entrepreneurs in Residence at the Innovation Institute vet potential startups and identify resources to get them off the ground. Whether you are a new academic entrepreneur or have a successful startup, the Innovation Institute can help you navigate the startup process. Reach out to us and we will help you with the process and in the meantime you can view our startup formation resources.

STEP 6B: Find a Partner

An industry partner is often the best way to get an idea or innovation commercialized. They have the late-stage development and commercialization expertise to advance an innovation and drive it to market.  An innovation that improves upon an existing product or solution or fills a gap in an existing company’s technology pipeline, is often best pursued as a licensing partnership with an existing company, and often includes sponsored research with the inventor to continue development of the technology. The team at the Office of Industry and Economic Partnerships (OIEP) can help you identify and select potential partners and establish a strong partnership relationship.

STEP 7: Negotiate a License

The licensing manager negotiates the terms of the license agreement, which require the licensee to bring the technology to the marketplace. Regardless of the licensee being an existing company or a startup, the process of licensing the technology proceeds. A licensing manager at the Innovation Institute will facilitate the process between the university, licensee and innovator(s) (in some cases the licensee and innovator(s) may be one in the same). The licensing manager will share the contractual agreement and terms with the licensee and manage the negotiation discussions until an agreement is met.

STEP 8: Follow-up and Support

The Innovation Institute manages the license agreement and in the case of a start-up can provide guidance and support necessary for the start-up to succeed. The Innovation Institute and innovators remain a resource for the licensee. The Innovation Institute facilitates the oversight and management of the agreement to ensure all agreed upon license agreement milestones are met. They also may refer the start-up to the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, a division of the Innovation Institute, for assistance in developing growth strategies. If the licensee is an industry partner of the university, or engages in follow-on sponsored research, the Office of Industry and Economic Partnerships has resources to help manage the relationship if needed.You may obtain an invention disclosure form and submit it online via the Innovation Institute website.