The commercialization process is complex; each technology is unique and develops its own pathway to market. There is no single set of activities that all commercialization stories share. That said, understanding these milestones gives insight into what Tech Launch Arizona does and how we help move UA technologies into commercial applications.
Research & Invent
Research by UA faculty and graduate assistants often leads to breakthrough discoveries, technologies and other innovations. We encourage researchers to continue open dialogues with TLA licensing managers about their findings and significant results.
While there's no perfect guideline for what results constitute an "invention," our licensing managers will help determine when it's appropriate to file a formal Invention Disclosure. At that point, TLA will begin assessing the market potential for an innovation.
Licensing Managers, Commercialization Partners and the Business Intelligence Team assess each invention through an initial look into the patent landscape and the market potential. They then share this information with the inventors.
When the initial assessment shows that an innovation is likely not covered by any existing patent, TLA works with the inventors and a national network of patent lawyers to begin the process of patent protection.
Asset Development funding helps advance inventions that aren’t yet ready to attract licensees or investors. In executing an Asset Development plan, a diverse team of experts, including TLA Commercialization Partners and Mentors-in-Residence, validate an invention's market potential and requirements and ready it for commercialization. These projects often involve creating a prototype, confirming functionality, exploring scalability, etc. If a UA technology merits funding, our staff and network of experts work with the inventors to shape a full AD proposal, including activities, budget and timeline.
Some inventions fit into the portfolio of technologies owned by an existing company, or are simply best suited to an existing company’s strategic plans. When such a company is identified, TLA connects with those businesses and works to negotiate a license for the IP.
Create Team & Business Case
Some inventions may be better served as founding technologies for a startup company. In these cases, and with the help of our Commercialization Network – comprised of our Commercialization Partners, our Mentors-in-Residence and over 1,400 domain experts – our Business Development team collaborates with inventors to bring the right people to the table to build targeted leadership teams each startup. In many cases, through the use of our Business Intelligence team, we dive deep to get a clear picture of the technology landscape so as to create a solid business case and strategy around the invention.
The transfer of rights to the IP from UA to either an established business or a startup happens by way of a license: a legal agreement that spells out the details of usage rights and consideration for those rights.
Mature & Grow
In the maturation stage, raw innovations are nurtured into more fully developed products. TLA remains involved at this stage only for maturing innovations within UA startups, not those licensed to established companies. The Arizona Center for Innovation and Tech Parks Arizona provides vital facilities and resources for maturing UA startups, but also offers these spaces and services to help non-UA-related companies to develop their products and connect with the research expertise and resources of the UA.
Every invention has its unique commercialization pathway. The invention may have been integrated with other technologies to upgrade an existing product. It may have become the basis of something entirely new. It may make its way to consumer markets, the business-to-business economy or both. A company may have even license it solely for internal use.
All of these scenarios, though very different, share two critical qualities: 1) The invention is generating income for its inventors and the UA, and 2) The outcome of a researcher's labor has expanded beyond academic journals, beyond even patented IP, to real-world use, and is creating an economic and social impact – the ultimate goal of everything we do.