Light bulb idea to innovation
Your Options

The university retains rights to inventions and discoveries. Working with the University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) protects (patents) and manages (licenses) this intellectual property (IP). UIRF can license IP to existing companies, or to a spinout venture. Inventors can continue to advance the IP through research and participate in the commercialization effort with the licensee as a university employee.

If an inventor starts a new venture to market the IP, the venture must first license the IP from the university. If you are a member of the venture, you must be aware of potential conflicts of interest between your academic research and commercial development.

In either case, UIRF is available to assist innovators at each step to gain the maximum benefit for all parties. For more information concerning these steps, see our Venture Creation Overview.

STEP 1: Disclosure

Disclosure is the simple and quick process of describing your discovery (IP) to UIRF. Do this as soon as you realize that it may have some commercial value. This will allow you to make your work public while protecting its future potential. If you have a pending publication or meeting presentation, UIRF can usually file for protection quickly. Disclose online at the UIRF's Online Invention Discolsure.

Download hard copy disclosures, copyrights disclosures, student disclosures and other forms with the UIRF Inventor Form Downloads.

STEP 2: License your IP 

The university retains rights to your inventions and discoveries. Working with you, UIRF protects (patents) and manages (licenses) this intellectual property (IP). We can license IP to existing companies, or to a spinout venture. You can continue to advance the IP through your research, and participate in the commercialization effort with the licensee as a university employee.

If you start a new venture to market the IP, your venture must first license the IP from the university. If you are a member of the venture, you must be aware of potential conflicts of interest between your academic research and commercial development.

In either case UIRF is here to assist you at each step to gain the maximum benefit for all parties. 

STEP 3: Be the CEO 

If you choose to start a new venture, be aware that you are the technical expert, and as such, you will need to lend scientific guidance to the venture for some time to come. This is often done as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).

If you intend to LEAD the company as CEO, you will need to spend considerable time and energy managing, raising capital, and marketing your venture. This may conflict with your role at the university. However, inventors often take INTERIM leadership roles with their startups to get them off the ground. Who better than the inventor to be evangelist for their idea? These are often part-time efforts. At the right time, additional management can be brought in to replace the inventor who have the skills, experience and talent to DRIVE what needs to be done and the initiative and build a multi-million dollar company.

If you are new at leading a company, UIRF is here to assist you at each step to gain the maximum benefit for all parties.

STEP 4: Other Alternatives 

An alternative to single-handedly and personally managing the startup  is to find assistance. This can come in a number of forms from mentors and advisors, to volunteer CEOs and managers (assuming your new venture has little or no financial resources).  UIRF can assist in finding and interviewing volunteers to find those that most closely meet your needs.  

UIVentures and UIRF are here to assist you at each step to gain the maximum benefit for all parties.  Please Contact Us with questions.