University of Minnesota
Office for Technology Commercialization

Office for Technology Commercialization homeOTC

For Inventors

Steps in the Commercialization Process

Karen Ashe, Alzheimer's researcher

Technology commercialization is at the intersection of discovery, business, and intellectual property law. We are here to partner with researchers throughout the entire process to determine the best commercial strategy for each technology. This collaboration is critical for success and we value our partnerships with University researchers.

1. Reporting Inventions to OTC

University policy requires researchers to report inventions that they believe may have commercial or public value. We make this easy with three simple steps:

  1. Download the confidential Intellectual Property Disclosure Form
    Word DocIntellectual Property Disclosure Form (IPDF) [Word]
  2. Complete the IPDF form
  3. E-mail the completed form to:

A Technology Strategy Manager will then contact you to begin the technology evaluation process.

2. OTC's Technology Evaluation Process

After reporting an invention to OTC, a Technology Strategy Manager will contact you to discuss your invention, how it was funded, whether collaborators were involved, and your plans for any public disclosures of the invention.

OTC will then analyze the potential commercial market for your invention, conduct literature and patent searches to help assess patentability, and evaluate possible commercialization strategies that provide a suitable financial return to the University.

The evaluation process generally takes three months, and if appropriate, a patent application is filed. Your Technology Strategy Manager will update you throughout this process, and your input is critical to the evaluation success.

3. IP Protection and Commercialization Strategy

The next steps in commercialization involve protecting the intellectual property surrounding your invention and defining the best commercialization strategy. Many inventions are protected via patents, but trademarks and copyright are used as well.

During this phase, a Technology Marketing Manager and your Technology Strategy Manager team up to propose the best commercialization strategy and determine whether the technology should be commercialized through a license to an existing company, or via a University startup.

4. Technology Marketing & Licensing

Once protected, technologies are marketed to potential commercial partners to find the one best able to develop your technology into a successful product. Technologies are marketed in numerous ways, including via the OTC website, technology broker web sites (e.g. iBridge), technology showcases, professional trade shows, and direct meetings with companies.

Technology Marketing Managers negotiate the terms of a licensing agreement, which require the commercial partner to bring the technology to the marketplace.

5. Commercialization & Revenue

After a license is completed with an existing company or a startup, the commercial partner works to turn your technology into a commercial product or service. Depending on the product and its market, this process can take months to years. During product development and sales, revenue received by the University, such as milestone payments or royalties, is distributed to University inventors, departments, and colleges according to Regents Policy.

+ View the Regents Policy on Commercialization of Intellectual Property

More Information


Below are several OTC brochures with additional information on aspects of technology commercialization:

PDF DocCommercialization coaching card

PDF DocSteps in the commercialization process

PDF DocOTC’s Technology evaluation criteria

PDF DocProvisional patents: process & responsibilities


Please contact a Technology Strategy Manager if you have questions.