Where does Oxford University Innovation fit in?

Oxford University Innovation helps researchers in:

  • identifying research output of potential commercial value

  • evaluating its commercial potential

  • protecting research output with intellectual property rights

  • marketing inventions

  • deal-making

These activities form the foundation of successful technology transfer, which can be described as stimulating contact between the owners and potential users of IP.

Successful technology transfer is a team activity and we expect researchers to participate in the promotion of their inventions. This can become a time consuming activity.


This involves encouraging researchers to consider the commercial applications of research at an early stage and also working to identify novel, inventive, and protectable aspects of research.

Ownership of Intellectual Property

It is essential always to have a clear understanding of who owns IP arising from research activities. Establishing ownership of IP arising within Oxford University is the responsibility of Research Services.

This involves establishing the ‘trail’ – from invention, to inventor(s), to employer (normally), to funding body (where research contract terms dictate). The University will assign (or license) to us the IP which it owns, where we are the chosen means of exploiting that IP.


Technology transfer is a commercial activity and the money spent on patents is an investment from which a financial return is expected. Due to the early and complex nature of University research, the return is likely to be long term and difficult to define. Nevertheless, we need to establish clearly that a market (current or potential) exists before we spend money on patenting.


Building defensible walls around inventions and other research outputs is essential. It is a complex and hence expensive activity.

Oxford University Innovation manages a large portfolio of patent families and has pursued initial applications through to granted patents on a global basis.

We pay for filing and prosecuting patent applications, design rights and trademarks, using a range of patent attorneys and lawyers expert in high technology fields.


We use our specialist market analysis skills and leads from researchers to identify potential commercial partners. We prepare and distribute non-confidential marketing information and follow up potential leads.

Deal making

Negotiating and closing licensing deals associated with the exploitation of IP is a key part of the role of Oxford University Innovation. Resulting revenue is distributed according to the University’s regulations.

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