Technology transfer process

Description of technology transfer process, from research and disclosure to commercialization and impact.

The process of moving a discovery or innovation from lab to market is exciting and complex. This diagram provides an overview of the high points along the way. Learn more about each step in the process below.

Our researchers are some of the brightest and most creative minds around. Research conducted at KU and the KU Medical Center often results in the creation of new discoveries or innovations, along with the generation of new knowledge. Those discoveries and innovations positively impact society.

When a researcher believes they’ve identified or created something that could be useful beyond the lab or classroom, we encourage them to let us know by disclosing that innovation to our office. The disclosure form and instructions can be found on the Disclose Your Ideas webpage.

If you’re not sure about disclosing your innovation, please email to book a consultation with our team to learn more about the process.

We strive to make transparent and informed decisions. Once an innovation is disclosed to our office, our team will work to review what is provided, ask questions and make recommendations about what additional steps may be taken to protect or add value to the innovation. This comes together in an Initial Review Report that is shared back and includes our research into the perceived market, potential competitors and existing intellectual property. It also includes our rationale for the recommended next steps.

If a recommendation is made to pursue intellectual property protection, we will work with researchers and legal counsel to develop a strategy for securing such rights, including applying for a patent, registering a copyright, or other activities which help ensure our interests are preserved.

Our office works to market KU inventions to potential industry partners or others who can help advance its development. Much of this is done using digital platforms such as our website, INPART and the AUTM Innovation Marketplace. The best place to view all the available KU technologies is our Licensing KU Technology webpage.


Partnering happens in many ways, but most commonly either by connecting an innovation to an existing company or by forming a startup company. Our team works to contact companies or other organizations that can take a discovery or innovation to the market. When the next step in developing the innovation is forming a new company, our office supports those entrepreneurial interests and works with partners at the KU Innovation Park, Institute for Advancing Medical Innovations (IAMI)KUMC Center for Health Innovation and others in the KU innovation ecosystem.

Although KU does not directly commercialize innovations, we do license our rights to third parties (existing or new companies) and give those groups the right to develop and sell products based upon the innovation. In return, we receive consideration for those rights, which are shared with our researchers. This transaction occurs through a license agreement that articulates rights and responsibilities of both parties and serves as a framework for further development. We negotiate the terms and conditions of these agreements and then monitor our partners’ performance.

After an innovation is licensed to a partner, the partner takes steps toward commercial development and seeks funding to support those efforts. Although KU does not take an active role in those activities, we do stay in close contact with our partners and make efforts to support their success. These include assisting companies as they seek nondilutive funding (through awards and other seed grants), networking with strategic partners or investors, answering technical questions, and continuing to protect the underlying intellectual property.

We measure success by the impacts such as improved outcomes, enhanced processes, economic development and/or revenue generation. If revenue is generated from commercialization of an innovation by a partner, it will be shared with the creator(s) and others at the university who helped support its success. Details on the sharing of revenue obtained from licensed innovations are described in our Intellectual Property Policy.

Tech Transfer FAQs

Inform the KU Center for Technology Commercialization at your earliest convenience by completing the software disclosure form (.docx). Briefly explain what you invented or what software you created, how the work is funded, and if a public disclosure has been scheduled or has occurred.

For a patent to be granted for an invention it must be:

  • Novel
  • Useful
  • Non-obvious

Be sure to include how your invention meets those criteria. Email us if you have any questions about the disclosure form.

Complete details are available in the KU Policy Library.

The KU intellectual property policy and your employment agreement with KU requires that rights to inventions and software developed in the conduct of research at KU or with KU resources be assigned to the university. This applies to IP with an annual value of $10,000 or more. In short, KU becomes the owner of all related patents and copyrights as mandated by federal law for government-funded research.

You can do both. Seeking a patent for a discovery or invention does not prevent scientific publication and, in most cases, does not delay the patenting process. However, to retain the potential for foreign patent protection, you must file the U.S. patent application before you can describe the invention for an article, abstract, thesis, presentation on the internet, or any other public format. This also includes technical discussions with colleagues from companies or other institutions.

The United States adopted a first-to-file system in 2014, which is widely accepted by most nations. In some cases, a patent application may be filed up to one year after you publicly disclose your invention. In most countries, an invention cannot be patented once that occurs. A software copyright begins the moment the code is affixed to tangible media, creating fewer issues with publishing.

To find out if your discovery is patentable, contact KUCTC. A licensing associate will work with you to help you understand the process.

To protect your rights, you’ll need to submit a description of the discovery to us at least three months prior to submitting the manuscript or abstract. This allows us time to review the information, perform our research, and engage a patent attorney to draft and file the patent application.

After you’ve filed a patent application, publishing and discussing your work publicly can help generate interest. However, you should still be cautious about disclosing certain information such as the possibility of filing future patent applications.

The disclosure evaluation process may take up to three months, depending on the complexity of the invention and the target industry. At the end of the evaluation, the decision to move forward with patenting will be made together with the inventor. Drafting the patent application with the help of a patent law firm can take up to two months. Once filed with the U.S. Patent Office, claims take at least three years to be approved. Licensing and marketing efforts can occur simultaneously with the patenting process.

We rarely file for protection in foreign jurisdictions due to budget limitations. However, there are certain sectors and technologies that warrant such protection. Please discuss with your licensing associate if you believe your technology falls under that category.

The filing and prosecution of patent applications are handled by outside patent firms. A patent attorney is selected based on technical expertise, competence, and prior experience in working with similar cases.

A company or an individual interested in your new invention may try to learn confidential information pertaining to your patent through conversations or visiting your laboratory. A confidential disclosure agreement (insert link to confidential disclosure agreement) protects your rights and allows you to continue your conversations with potential business partners. We can help you with contract preparation, negotiation, and execution.

The execution of a license agreement begins a long-term relationship with the licensee. Our office monitors the licensee’s performance for the duration of the agreement. To ensure commercialization of the invention, most license agreements require periodic financial and development reports from the licensees, with special attention to meeting certain milestones or deliverables.

We also monitor patent prosecution and maintenance of issued patents. Sometimes it’s necessary to re-evaluate a licensing relationship to accommodate changed circumstances or to consider new situations.

Whether your research project is funded by the federal government, a company, foundation, or other nonprofit, it includes an associated research agreement. This agreement addresses many issues and contingencies, including ownership and allocation of intellectual property rights to patents and/or software resulting from your discoveries. The KUCTC Industry Agreements Group provides flexible options to companies for IP rights in the sponsored research agreements.

Revenues generated by the license are distributed to the inventor, the inventor’s department, and KU according to the KU revenue sharing policy. The KU policy regarding royalty distribution describes this in detail.