Inventor's Guide to Commercialization

Technology commercialization is the movement of knowledge and discoveries from the university environment to the general public.  This can occur by contributing to publications, sending educated students into the workforce, exchanging ideas at conferences, or building relationships with industry.  For the purposes of this guide, however, technology commercialization refers to the formal licensing of technology to third parties, as well as the organization of new technology-based companies, for the benefit of the community, the state, and the world.

The IDEA Center is the University of Notre Dame’s comprehensive foray into technology commercialization.  Standing for Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration, the IDEA Center is the centralized foundation for all commercialization and entrepreneurial activities within the University.  It provides the necessary space, services, and expertise required for idea development, commercialization, business formation, prototyping, entrepreneurial education, and student entrepreneurship.  As such, the IDEA Center is designed to bring the best Notre Dame faculty, staff, and student ideas and innovations to market. 

Burgeoning technologies developed by Notre Dame stakeholders will be introduced to the IDEA Center to work through a series of progressive steps to bring the concept to market.  After the initial assessment of a new technology and the subsequent determination of its potential intellectual property (IP) value, the IDEA Center will work to either license the technology to an existing company or form a new company from the ground up.  Licenses vary by scope as well as exclusivity, and are typically designed to optimize technology-product fit while generating financial returns for the University. 

Per University Policy, Notre Dame University owns inventions, discoveries, and improvements made as a result of University employment or through the use of University resources.  This policy is largely a result of the Bayh-Dole Act that incentivized universities nationwide to undergo rigorous research and development efforts to assist in the continuous progress of domestic markets.  Regardless of its origin, however, the policy positions the IDEA Center as a well-equipped connection between the campus marketplace of ideas and the external marketplace of goods and services.

Due to the University’s unique placement between academia and commerce, the IDEA Center has recently established many new business and development initiatives to facilitate and support the startup of new technology-based companies throughout Indiana.  The Center also has relationships with a network of venture capitalists, angel investors, and corporate partners to assist in commercializing technologies.  This network, in conjunction with a series of new programs developed in the School of Business, helps train faculty and graduate students in the discipline of entrepreneurship.

While the IDEA Center works to generate financial returns for the University as well as educate faculty and students, it also benefits inventors through the creation and protection of intellectual property.  The inventor benefits in three primary ways: the sharing of financial rewards of licenses, the formation of industry relationships to fund subsequent research and development, and the introduction of inventions to the broader world to aid the public good.  The timeline of technology commercialization for the inventors will range from months to potentially years to complete; ultimately, this is dependent on the development stage of the technology, the participation by the inventing faculty or students, the presence of competing technologies in the marketplace, the amount of work needed to bring a new concept to market, and the resources and acceptance of potential licensees.