MSU Technologies (MSUT) employs a market-centered approach to technology transfer. When you submit a new invention to MSUT, it moves through our stage-gate evaluation process. This process is designed to protect, market, and license technologies and other intellectual property with the best commercial promise.
The first step in this process is to complete an invention disclosure form. Other steps include:
Each invention goes through an intensive screening process, an initial, high-level evaluation of an invention to identify commercialization opportunities and challenges. This stage evaluates commercialization potential based on factors such as intellectual property strength, market attractiveness, level of development, ease of implementation, and timing. At this time, you and/or your co-inventors will be interviewed to ensure that your insights are leveraged.
Following screening, the technology manager will share the report with you and discuss next steps. If the technology receives a favorable screening, next steps may include filing patent applications and moving the invention to the assessment stage of the technology transfer process.
If patent applications are considered for inventions, you may be asked to provide information to outside legal counsel to support the patenting process.
If the technology is not ready for commercialization at the time or needs development to meet industry needs, the invention will be returned and you may choose to continue working on the invention and file a new invention disclosure form following additional development.
Inventions that receive positive screening reports move to the assessment stage, which identifies how an invention may meet marketplace needs. During this stage, MSUT confidentially gathers direct industry feedback—including insights on strengths, weaknesses, further development needs, and market trends—from relevant companies.
Assessment reports are then shared and discussed with you. When an invention has the potential to fill a market need and generates positive industry feedback, MSUT will market the invention to potential licensees.
When challenges to commercialization are identified in the assessment report, the technology manager will discuss with you whether those challenges may be overcome by further development efforts that may enable the invention to become more commercially attractive in the future.
MSUT actively markets those inventions identified through the screening and assessment stages as having high commercial potential. Using our contact network, market intelligence reports, and patent databases, we identify and contact potential licensees, including large corporations, small-to-mid-sized businesses, or start-up companies, that may have interest in and the ability to further develop and commercialize the technology.
We also prepare marketing materials and post information about the invention on the database of available technologies on our website.
As companies express interest in learning more about the invention, MSUT will respond to requests and provide additional information. Some companies may want to speak with you as well. We encourage you to do so and will attempt to minimize the impact on your schedule. In addition to providing information about your research, these interactions also further expose industry to MSU’s research expertise and may lead to future sponsored research opportunities.
When an interested partner is found, our office will negotiate a license that is beneficial to the inventor, university, and company.
When a company expresses an interest in licensing one of MSU’s technologies, our staff will negotiate with the company to find agreeable licensing terms.
Licensing agreements allow companies to use the invention in exchange for payment of royalties to MSU and reimbursement for patent expenses. Licenses may be exclusive (rights granted to only one company) or nonexclusive (rights granted to several companies). Revenues received from licensees are shared between the inventors and the university, according to MSU policy, to fund additional research and education and to encourage further participation in the technology transfer process.
Once a license agreement has been completed, the licensee will continue to develop the invention for incorporation into their products or services in accordance with the terms of the agreement. These efforts may entail further research, obtaining regulatory approvals, manufacturing, distribution, and training.
Throughout the duration of the agreement, MSUT staff will monitor the progress of the licensee to verify they are in compliance with their obligations.
Technology transfer is a collaborative process between the inventor and MSUT. Our staff will work closely with you at each step to help meet market needs and optimize the commercial outcome for your invention. Your continued input in and support for commercialization activities significantly increases the possibility of licensing success.
MSUT attempts to add value to each invention disclosed to the office. While not every invention is suited for commercialization, our office will provide feedback on strengths and weaknesses and offer recommendations for further research and development needs for all inventions. When opportunities are available, we will provide information that may assist you in obtaining on-campus and off-campus research funding or in forming research partnerships with industry and other interested third parties.