What is it?

New research generates new knowledge and intellectual property (IP) that can be protected and commercialized. Common types of IP rights are confidential information, copyright, patents, trademarks, and design rights. Universities often seek to license IP, and specifically patents, in a manner that encourages technology development. Licensing is where an established company acquires rights to use University IP either on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis.


It is the commercialization of university IP either generated internally (background) or through collaboration with business (foreground).


Medium to Long-term (IP can be sold for a one-off payment or a royalty taken over the life of the Patent).


Licenses are normally negotiated with licensees on a case-by-case basis. With early-stage technologies, the aim of Universities is to support the pursuit of potential business opportunities while pursuing a fair return for the inventors and the University. Larger projects can lead to longer-term licensing agreements which can result in long-term revenue streams, further research programmes, consultancy for the academic and facilitates/equipment use (Pharma).


Research conducted in universities is often a long way from what is needed in a commercial environment, however, academic research can provide important insights for businesses to build on. Through effective licensing agreements, businesses and universities can forge an ongoing relationship that allows both parties to share appropriately in any success. Licenses provide access to cutting-edge research in a variety of fields which will assist businesses to innovate.

Suitable for which Businesses?

There are a wide variety of large and small businesses engaged in licensing university IP. They tend to be R&D orientated and pursuing high-tech and innovation related activities across a range of fields. They can be spin-out companies from the universities themselves.

How do you engage?

Some universities manage their own intellectual property portfolios through a dedicated IP office or Technology Transfer Organisation (TTO) and therefore can be searched and contacted directly. Other universities tend to use intermediaries, such as IP Group, who manage their intellectual property portfolios on behalf of universities.