Tech Transfer eNews Blog

University of Ulster has new take on open innovation

By Steve Lewis
Published: November 1st, 2011

The University of Ulster has created a new approach to the open innovation model: OpenUlster. Although it still offers its technologies like a more standard TTO, with a menu of innovations listed for licensing, there are some significant differences – notably the addition of an “evaluation license.”

“OpenUlster is a service in its own right,” says Dr. John MacRae, the technology commercialization manager. “Technologies that are available for license are listed on the site. Entrepreneurs, firms and other interested parties can see immediately the ones that are under evaluation and ones that are available.” To take out an evaluation license, which costs just one Pound, the visitor just clicks on the link to download the documents, fill out two forms and return them both to Ulster. “When the license is countersigned by one of our commercialization team, the firm has exclusivity to evaluate that technology,” says MacRae. “Full information will be provided along with any published patents, experimental data and prototypes or software. At the end of the evaluation period, which can be as short as three months and as long as one year depending on the nature of the technology, the evaluation license can be converted into a full commercial license.”

Creation of a distinct brand also makes the OpenUlster service easier to promote. In addition to normal outreach activities, every time a new technology is added the university’s partner network is notified using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and, particularly, LinkedIn. Using social media as a marketing tool in this way gets OpenUlster connected and close to the community it wants to engage with.

Sitting behind Ulster’s public face of open innovation is a new process of evaluating which technologies are suitable for OpenUlster. The assets chosen must have “hard” intellectual property, such as patents or designs, and be capable of legal protection, and will be offered with an exclusive evaluation license. The technology must also have reasonably complete evaluation data and self-explanatory documentation. Software and any other prototypes will be provided to licensees if available.

Source: Irish Times

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