Technology transfer is the process of moving research from the laboratory into public use. The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) is a team of professionals who work to facilitate the technology transfer process.
The technology typically developed at the University of Iowa is basic research in early stage development. Additional investment beyond the research, both in dollars and diligent effort, may be needed to move the technology from the University to public use. The UIRF often invests in intellectual property protection through patent applications or copyright filings to protect the technology. The UIRF will seek external partnerships to further the commercialization effort for selected technologies.
The UIRF process consists of four phases: intake, strategy development, intellectual property protection, and commercialization.
Phase 1: Intake
- Complete the online Invention Disclosure Form (IDF) here.
- The UIRF will answer questions and assist you with the process.
- A licensing associate will review your submission and meet with you to gather additional information and learn more about the technology.
Phase 2: Strategy Development
- The UIRF review team will meet and discuss your disclosure.
- The team will appraise the stage of development, the nature of the potential commercial market, and evaluate additional research plans to determine if the technology is ready to move forward. The team may place projects on hold for re-visiting on a rotating 6-month basis.
- The team may choose to investigate advanced disclosures that are ready for intellectual property or copyright protection.
- Copyright analysis can be performed for software-based inventions or other creative works.
- The patentability analysis begins with a prior art search, comparing the identified art to the disclosure and the information obtained during the meeting with the licensing associate. There is usually at least one aspect of a disclosure that is potentially patentable. A further patentability analysis includes a review for commercial potential.
Phase 3: Intellectual Property Protection
- If a patent application is appropriate, the UIRF will rely heavily upon the inventor(s) to work together as a team. A patent application can take a significant amount of time to prepare and review. The UIRF will assist and, in most cases, a non-UIRF attorney will draft an appropriate patent application. The patent process from filing to issuance can take years to complete and inventor(s) must be prepared to provide continued support.
- If a copyright is appropriate, the UIRF will work with the author to identify all authors. An author is anyone that created the work; for example, a student that wrote part of the code for a much larger program can be an author. Authors are not the same as inventors. The UIRF will help your team to properly identify the authors.
Phase 4: Commercialization
- The UIRF searches for a potential licensee interested in the technology. Because the authors/inventors are experts in their fields of study, they will often be the source of solid leads for the UIRF licensing associates. A licensee interested in the technology must sign a confidentiality agreement with the UIRF. Information regarding the patent application and potential additional research is shared after both parties sign the agreement. The UIRF and potential licensee will determine whether to enter into a license or other suitable agreement to further commercialization efforts.