To develop UR innovations into valuable products and services to make the world ever better.
Why Do We Do It?
Technology transfer functions are mandated by federal law. Even if they weren’t, we would still do it because it’s the right thing to do. Not only does the transfer of technologies make the world a better place, but the revenues generated are unrestricted and support the amazing research of the future. By rewarding our inventors, we also motivate them to solve real-world problems. Finally, the relationships we create help to attract and maintain industrial support for research.
How We Do It
UR Ventures Overview: UR Ventures is tasked with commercializing the intellectual property that arises from research at the University of Rochester. This is accomplished by protecting and managing intellectual property rights, but also by providing business development activities likely to result in better (i.e. less risky, and therefore, more attractive) technology licensing. The UR Ventures team then markets these technologies to existing companies, or seeks an appropriate entrepreneur to create a company around the technology that will champion it and bring it to the marketplace.
Technology Development Fund: In an effort to bring University of Rochester’s world-class research to life, UR Ventures has created the Technology Development Fund (TDF). Oftentimes, our research efforts yield scientific breakthroughs that are not ready to be translated to real world situations. The TDF exists to support UR researchers as they develop their innovations to get them ready for the marketplace via prototyping, testing, and de-risking. Awards are granted twice a year and range from $40,000 to $100,000 for approximately one year in duration. TDF funding can support technical and administrative staff salaries, equipment, and supplies. It does not fund faculty salaries or overhead. A committee of business people vets the proposals and mentors the awardees.
Patent Process and Market: When a University employee, in the course of her work, makes an interesting discovery, it is her obligation (under grant guidelines and University policy) to disclose her findings to UR Ventures. The discovery will be recorded and assigned to a Licensing Manager for review. The UR Ventures Licensing Manager will meet with the employee to discuss the discovery, how it compares with other work in the field, and what practical applications exist for the use of the discovery.
The UR Ventures team will search global databases to ensure that the discovery hasn’t been reported elsewhere by someone else. If the discovery appears sufficiently novel, we will research the market to see if there may be a likely real-world need for the products or services that may spring from the discovery.
If the discovery is new and the market warrants it, intellectual property attorneys will be consulted to determine if sufficient IP rights might be obtained to protect it with a patent. If the answer is, “yes,” the URV Licensing Manager presents the argument for filing a patent to the entire team. If a compelling business case is made, UR Ventures will engage outside counsel to draft, file, and prosecute one, or more, patent application(s).
Patent prosecution is costly and time consuming. While the application is pending at the Patent Office, the UR Venture Licensing Manager will work to locate an industrial partner who can make the investment to transform the discovery into an actual product or service available to the public. Ideally, an existing company will see the utility of our discovery and agree to license our intellectual property. That license will typically include reimbursement of patent costs and a percentage of product/service sales for the life of the patent(s).
Startups: Existing companies are usually risk-averse when it comes to acquiring new technologies, so in some cases, UR Ventures will locate an experienced and competent entrepreneur to start a company around our discovery. This startup will champion the technology, raise money, and perform the work necessary to develop the discovery. This may result in a consumer-ready product/service, or the startup may simply de-risk the idea sufficiently to attract the interest of a larger company.
Of course, this is a summary description of everything we do. Each discovery disclosed to UR Ventures is unique and presents its own set of challenges that may vary greatly from the summary, above.