For staff

The commercialisation process

EI has an established commercialisation process for translating new ideas, discoveries or inventions arising from your research into industry.

The normal routes for commercialising a technology by the University of Edinburgh will involve one of the following three options:


  • Develop the technology further with a commercial partner. One of the most constructive forms of knowledge transfer, for all partners involved, is collaborative research. This is where a company and a University department work together to pursue a research objective that is of mutual benefit and is jointly managed under a collaborative agreement. This often includes a first option for the company to commercialise the results.


  • License the technology to an existing and market-established company. This is often the most effective way of managing the transfer of new technologies from the University into industry. Licensing enables the University to maintain ownership of its intellectual property and oversee that it is developed and commercialised by the licensee whilst at the same time generating royalty income from the use of its intellectual property by industry.


  • Form a startup or University spinout company to take the technology to market. EI can support you in forming your own company to commercialise the technology. We provide a leading enterprise support service, working with staff to turn innovations into startups of spinouts (companies in which the University retains an ownership stake), and we connect them with funding and investors. Learn how to form a company.


Choosing the most appropriate route

The decision as to which commercialisation route is applicable for a particular piece of technology is dependent on several factors, such as:

  • the nature of the technology (e.g. is it disruptive or complementary to existing solutions)
  • time to market
  • amount of development work required
  • location of and/or interest from the market
  • the wishes and aspirations of the inventor(s)

Simplistically, licensing is best suited to technologies with discrete identifiable applications and a well-understood market, whereas forming a new spinout company is better for technologies with a wide range of applications requiring ongoing support or complex chains to take a product to market.

Next step

Our Business Development experts will help you explore your options and are embedded in the University's Schools as first points of contact for staff seeking to commercialise their work or ideas.