Create a Spinoff

This information was developed to assist you in creating a research-driven spinoff. This information will also be helpful when creating a non-research-driven startup too. 

This guide provides information only, not advice. It seeks to interpret, but does not supersede university policies and/or procedures. The resources are not-exhaustive and not a substitute for inventors’ personal research. The university does not expressly validate the content of outside sources. 

This is intended for University of Alberta researchers, postdocs, graduate students, undergraduate students, and staff considering commercializing an invention developed at the university and interested in exploring spinoff creation. 

What is a Spinoff Company?

A U of A spinoff company is a legal entity, distinct from the university, which meets the following criteria:

  • derives a considerable portion of its commercial activities from the application or use of a technology originating from research activities conducted at UAlberta;
  • is not controlled by the university, but in which the university may have a non-controlling equity stake and/or a royalty stake; and
  • which has signed, in addition to all appropriate commercial documentation, a relationship agreement with the university to address conflict of interest arising from the involvement of U of A personnel in the new spinoff.

Creating a Spinoff

Building, launching, and growing a spinoff company takes a tremendous amount of work, commitment, and capital. Most new businesses fail, but the ones that succeed bring tremendous value to their creators and communities. Before deciding to go on this journey, seek advice from seasoned entrepreneurs, discuss with family and friends, and consider your personal and professional commitments.

Every spinoff’s journey is different, and milestones of early companies vary by industry. However, the stages and resources outlined in the toolkit are common to new ventures. The steps presented are not necessarily sequential but are intended as a reference. The university has policies, procedures and agreements that have been created to manage this process and Technology Transfer Services (TTS) can help navigate the commercialization journey.

Spinoff Journey

Reporting an invention

This is an important first step that applies to all students, staff, and faculty of the university. If your research has resulted in an invention, the first step in protecting that invention is to confidentially disclose (report) it to the university before publishing or sharing at a conference, lecture or poster as this could result in a loss of some patent rights.

How to report an invention »

Assign IP to university

TTS team assesses commercial and patent potential

TTS team initiates patent filing if applicable at university’s cost

Enter standardized spinoff agreement to license IP to your spin off

Select standardized deal structure:



(Royalty & Equity)


Keep IP ownership

Inventor arranges IP assessment and protection at inventor’s cost

Inventor initiates patent filing at inventor’s cost

Enter standardized spinoff agreement to license IP to your spinoff

Select standardized deal structure:



(Royalty & Equity)


Licensing Frequently Asked Questions

I want a company to license my innovation

Why would I assign IP ownership to the university?

Commercializing via the university involves transferring IP ownership to the university in exchange for the university assuming responsibility for managing commercialization. Versus commercialize independently (where you own the IP and assume responsibility for commercialization and associated costs).

When assigning to the university, the TTS team will assess patentability and cover initial patent costs (subject to limits). The university will also prepare and sign the legal agreements required to grant the spinoff use rights to the technology through a license agreement.

Why would I keep IP ownership? (independent commercialization)
Commercialization independently means keeping IP ownership and assuming legal and financial responsibility for patent assessment, initial patent filing and the preparation of legal agreements to transfer the IP to the spinoff.
Can the university help me make a decision on IP ownership?
Yes, through the TTS team. They can help you understand the implications of both options. The final decision, however, is yours to make. You can also seek independent counsel before making a decision.
Will the university support my spinoff even if I choose to keep the IP?
Yes, support services are available regardless of the IP ownership path chosen. 
Why are the spinoff standardized terms (i.e., the revenue sharing formula) the same for the two options (IP owned by me versus assigned to the university)?
If IP is assigned to the university, limited IP services (see question 1) are provided to the inventor/spinoff at no additional cost. This also recognizes the fact that, regardless of which IP ownership path you choose, the bulk of the commercialization work and cost is undertaken by the spinoff. Thus, in the standardized terms, the inventor’s obligations to university have been set at the value of independent commercialization, which is 1/3 of net revenue as outlined in the Patent Policy.
If I assign my IP to the university, will the university license or assign my IP to my spinoff?
U of A licenses the IP under terms and conditions that must be met by the spinoff. Meaning, if the spinoff becomes unable to commercialize the technology, the university and inventor can choose to end the license and pursue other technology commercialization opportunities. However, the standardized license agreements also include provisions for future assignment of IP (to the spinoff) based on clear milestones.
What does the university do with the revenue it generates from spinoffs?
The university reinvests its revenue back into commercialization support and services.