Research Commercialization and Technology Transfer – Five ways that can help you to protect and commercialize your creative work in sciences and social sciences

03 November, 2022

Mr. Haseeb Shakil,
Executive Research Operations (ORIC)

Dr Shafique Ahmed,
Manager Innovation & Commercialization (ORIC)

Any creation of mind such as invention, design, symbol, process etc. is referred to as Intellectual Property (IP). Just like tangible assets, intellectual property also contributes to the success of a business. Patenting is a primary tool to protect an IP, but there are number of intellectual properties such as copyright, trade secrets, know how, designs, trademarks, and database rights which should be managed properly. First, consultancy is application of existing knowledge generated by research which helps to solve an existing challenge. If you are an expert on something technical for example designing communication strategy for a growing organization or shortening of an industrial process for some product development, then you can approach the right parties as consultant or vice versa. Second, licensing allows the owner to sell the rights of his creation/innovation to a licensee. Third, spin-outs are formed specifically to commercialize the outputs of a research with the help of Technology Transfer Office (TTO).

Fourth, negotiation is term defined as planning, reviewing, analysis that a buyer and seller conduct to reach an agreement. You may want to create a proposition where everyone benefits, i.e., win-win situation. Otherwise, it will not be sustainable. And finally, you must mind stakeholder engagement as fifth pillar of your commercialization effort. Your stakeholders may be senior management of the organization you work in or your academic leaders, or your co-workers on the project. Clearing any conflict of interest at this stage is vital. Try to nip it in bud.

Types of Patent Application in Pakistan

  1. An ordinary patent application is defined as an application with complete specification, which contains the date of the official filing of the patent application”.
  2. A convention patent application is defined as declaring “right of priority”, which is dated as of the official date of the corresponding application for patent first made in a country which is the member of World Trade Organization (WTO).
  3. According to the World Data Bank report 2020:

Country

Number of Patents

Pakistan

338

India

23,141

China

1,344,817

Let’s discuss five ways to commercialize research that also protect your creation:

Consultancy

Consultancy is the term defined as “application of existing knowledge, skills and abilities generated by research”. It helps to solve existing challenges of a firm. It helps to solve a particular problem but it doesn’t create new knowledge. As consultancy is the commercial project so the concerned person (client) can own the results of project. Consultancy opportunities can come from developing marketing material, having representatives who can convey your message to other stakeholders, providing trainings along with material, having an effective website, highlighting success stories, and networking.

Level of Stakeholder Engagement:

  1. Inform: Inform stakeholders on the initiative, the issue, and the potential solutions by providing them with fair and impartial information.
  2. Consult: Seek opinion on the information provided. The amount of input might range ranging from minor to a great. Opportunities to provide feedback that will be taken into account during the decision-making process can be one-time or recurring.
  3. Involve: During the process, work very closely with stakeholders to ensure that their issues and expected outputs are thoroughly addressed and taken into consideration at each level. The consultant / consulting firm continues to make the final decisions, but with thoughtful input from the many stakeholders.

Empower: Keep stakeholders in authority of making the final decisions. Votes and voting ballots are notable examples.

Licensing

Licensing an intellectual property allows the owner to sell the rights to use intellectual property to a licensee (holder of a license). IP licensing is a form of contract. By holding license, the licensee has been permitted to allow what they want to do with that property. A license agreement is beneficial if both parties have awareness to identify appropriate permissions. A license agreement should be a written document signed by all involved parties. Sometimes one party defines the terms of agreement but most of the time both the parties negotiate. In the process of written agreement, IP attorneys help to draft the agreement which includes permission, duration, and term of use etc. Five important considerations in licensing that you should know are as follows:

  1. Rights: The rights being transferred to licensee for reproducing a work
  2. Financial Consideration: Financial exchange, type of currency to be used etc.
  3. Territory: Where the licensee may use the license
  4. Term: Duration of license
  5. Exclusivity: The concerned who have rights under the license
  6. Governing Laws: The jurisdiction that will handle a dispute
  7. Dispute Resolution: Whether the parties will resolve the dispute on their own or in court
  8. Spin-outs

Spin-out companies are formed specifically to commercialize the outputs of a research or technology. Usually, one or more of the researchers is directly involved as a founder or stakeholder. In some cases, due to institutional policies, the researchers are not allowed to form part of the spin-out venture so they may just be beneficiaries of the license agreement the university makes with the spin-out venture. The success of a spin-out will be enhanced where a wide range of local support mechanisms are available, such as:

  1. proof of concept funding
  2. management expertise
  3. accelerator programs
  4. start-up friendly spaces and access to suitable facilities
  5. access to customers (whether consumers or large businesses)
  6. specialist support service providers
  7. venture finance, including dedicated investment funds

TTO is the entity that helps in the process of technology transfer among researcher and interested parties. TTO can extend the following support measures to a spinout:

  1. developing the proposition
  2. managing the licensing of intellectual property to the spin-out
  3. helping build the team
  4. providing early-stage seed funding
  5. assisting with ongoing business management

Negotiation:

The term negotiation refers to a strategic discussion that resolves an issue in a way that both parties find acceptable.

Commercial Negotiation is term defined as planning, reviewing, analysis that a buyer and seller conduct to reach an agreement. Each party in a negotiation seeks to convince the other to accept their point of view. Given that there is some give and take during negotiations, one party will always gain. But even a small concession must be made by the other. All parties concerned attempt to prevent conflict through negotiation while agreeing on a compromise. Buyers and sellers, an employer and a potential employee, a government of two or more countries or other parties can all be negotiating parties.

Principled Negotiation

  1. People – Separate people from problems as that each party has a different perception of the issues; each party must learn to better communicate and listen.
  2. Interests – Focus on interests not on positions
  3. Options – Create and discuss lot of possibilities before deciding what to do
  4. Criteria – Insist on a result based on some objective standard

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder Engagement is the process by which an individual/organization can involve people who may be affected by decisions. Engagement activities involve one-on-one meetings, workshops/seminars, structured programs, social events, social media campaigns, public relations (PR), and advertisement.

Key Principles of Engagement

  1. Communicate: Sharing the information with stakeholder
  2. Plan: Careful planning regarding investment before sharing information with stakeholders
  3. Relationships: Relationships are key to enhance trust and help to work together more easily and efficiently
  4. Take Responsibility: Stakeholder engagement is not a job of one member, it is the responsibility of all individuals involved.

Conclusion:

Commercialization has been vital for protection of an intellectual property for a few decades now, but the awareness of all formal levels of commercialization such as consultancy, licensing and spin outs and exposure to protect an IP may be beneficial for the purpose of generating revenue from creation/innovation. The creations/innovations are growing exponentially, and as the fear of idea duplication increases so its protection in form of IP decreases that fear of idea duplication. When the creation/innovation is rewarded for its viability and uniqueness, it reinforces the society/firms to accept and adopt it.

For more information:

Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) of Pakistan is the organization where patents can be filed.

URL: https://www.ipo.gov.pk/patent_intro

For more support and specific help (if required) please reach us at shafique.ahmed@superior.edu.pk, oric@superior.edu.pk

Authors:
  1. Muhammad Haseeb Shakil
    Executive Research Operations (ORIC)
    The Superior University, Lahore
    Email: haseeb.shakil@superior.edu.pk
  2. Dr. Shafique Ahmed
    Manager Innovation & Commercialization (ORIC)
    The Superior University, Lahore
    Email: shafique.ahmed@superior.edu.pk