Intellectual Property

An Inventor-Friendly Process

The U of A helps inventors demystify and navigate commercialization, ensuring ventures are nimble and competitive as they bring a product or service to market. While the process may vary on a case-by-case basis, it all starts with reporting an invention – the first step in protecting yourself and your ideas.

  • Step 1: Report an Invention
  • Step 2: Assess Potential
  • Step 3: Initiate a Patent
  • Step 4: Engage Partners and Enter Agreements
  • Step 5: Develop Product and Establish Operations
  • Step 6: Achieve results

Inventor-owned Intellectual Property (IP)

The U of A has an inventor-owned patentable IP policy that places inventors as the primary decision-makers. Two options exist for patentable IP ownership depending on the level of autonomy and support the inventor is seeking.

Inventor Retains IP

An inventor who chooses to retain their IP maintains control over commercialization while taking on the majority of financial and legal responsibility, risk and reward.

University Assigned IP

When an inventor assigns their IP to the U of A, joint decisions are made about commercialization, sharing the financial and legal responsibility, risk and reward.

Whether retaining the IP or assigning it to the university, the inventor may opt for a licensing option or the creation of a spinoff.

In both cases, inventors have access to advice and services offered by the TTS Team and the U of A community. Services include training on the commercialization process, grant assistance, strategic business development support, preliminary market assessments, and various campus and non-campus-based business incubators and resources.

Clear Commercialization Pathways

An inventor commercializing patentable IP may choose to license to an existing company or create a spinoff company, which licenses the technology. Alternatively, when there is no patentable intellectual property (e.g. software) developed in the university context, the inventor may launch a startup company, completely separate from the U of A.

Each option has different considerations, and our Technology Transfer Services Team can help identify and navigate the right pathway for you.


Licensing allows an existing company to gain access to a particular invention without requiring the creation of a startup or spinoff company.


A spinoff is a new company set up in order to license and develop patentable IP into a product or service while retaining ties with the university.


When there is no patentable intellectual property developed within the university context, an inventor may choose to launch a startup, an early-stage company that focuses on developing a specific product or service. The inventor is still able to access a variety of supports and services to help advance commercialization. Startups have no formal ties to the university.

Flexible Commercialization Strategies

When commercializing with the U of A, we offer commercialization strategies that place the inventor as the decision-maker. Depending on the pathway chosen, inventors may select from a royalty-based, equity-based or blended model. The U of A is committed to offering inventor- and investor-friendly options for revenue sharing on IP developed within the university ecosystem.

Talk to our Technology Transfer Services Team to determine what options are available and which model will best suit your needs.

Not sure where to start?

Transforming discoveries and innovations into reality is a complex and lengthy process. The Technology Transfer Services (TTS) team is here to help you protect your idea, discovery or invention, and explore commercialization potential and opportunities.

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