licensing & collaborative licensing

Transferring innovations is a complicated, non-linear process. Universities and research institutions are primarily engaged in the business of expanding the knowledge base. Whether this is new methods for education, programs for training or a potential new drug, the research is cutting edge, pushing the frontiers of the respective disciplines. Over time (depending on the industry sector) this research results in a body of knowledge that is used by industry to commercialize innovations.

This cutting edge research can also result in very early stage innovations that are disclosed to the university and often require significant investment of time and resources on part of the university in order to be licensed and even more investment by companies in order to become viable products. Companies often view these early stage innovations with a certain amount of trepidation because there is a perception that the innovations may not lead to products and investing in early stage innovations is risky for the company.

In order to reduce this perceived risk to industry, universities have implemented several programs in the last two decades to reduce risk. These include technology development programs, entrepreneurs in residence, gap funding and industry sponsored research with varying degrees of success.

In addition, with the changing landscape of technology transfer, there is increasing emphasis on university–industry alliances. Collaborations are often an under-utilized path to licensing success. They also enhance your industry network and reputation of the institution.

One way to reduce the risk is for the office to help develop innovations to a point that they are licensable either through the use of gap or technology development funds, or through collaborations with industry. In either case, the primary question is how the perceived risk is going to be reduced.

Collaborative Licensing Approach: Collaborative licensing is a new twist on an old concept. This model is sometimes referred to the shared-risk model, i.e. anything that is done to re-risk the innovation makes it more licensable. Traditional industry collaborations are a gateway for universities to assist industry in specific research or development related to their existing intellectual property or product portfolio. Collaborative licensing is different. In some ways it is like the standard “test license” but rather than sending the project off to the company for testing or vetting, the university research team collaborates with the industry research team with the goal of determining whether the technology has what it takes.

In addition to being well versed in looking for licensing partners the conventional way, we work with our clients to find the right collaboration partner – one with a genuine interest in research or product development collaborations for the purpose of developing your technology, not theirs. Our team can work with you to devise the appropriate strategy, to secure potential licensees, and to craft, negotiate, and execute appropriate licensing and collaborative licensing agreements. We have extensive experience in creating both big and small partnerships, including many long-term, multi-million dollar collaborations and hundreds of smaller ones.