How do I work with the Technology Transfer Office?
We encourage you to contact the TTO during your discovery process to ensure you are aware of the options that will best leverage the commercial potential of your research. The TTO can assist you with questions related to marketability, funding sources, commercial partners, patenting and other protection methods, new business start-up considerations, and TTO policies and procedures.
What are the typical steps in the technology transfer process?
The process of technology transfer is summarised in the steps and diagram that follow. Note that these steps can vary in sequence and may often occur simultaneously.
1 RESEARCH/ EXPERIMENTATION
Observations and experiments during research activities, or experimental changes made to designs or processes in an industrial setting, can lead to discoveries and inventions. An invention is any new process or product, or any improvement of these. Often, several researchers or enterprise personnel may have contributed to the invention.
An early contact with the TTO to discuss your invention and to provide guidance with respect to the disclosure, evaluation, and protection processes described below.
3 INVENTION/ TECHNOLOGY DISCLOSURE
The written notice of invention to the TTO that begins the formal technology transfer process. An invention disclosure remains a confidential document, and should fully document your invention so that the options for commercialization can be evaluated and pursued.
The period in which the TTO reviews (with your input) the invention disclosure, conducts patent and other Intellectual Property (IP) searches (if applicable), and analyses the market and competitive technologies to determine the invention’s commercialisation potential. The evaluation process will help determine whether to focus on licensing to an existing company or on creating a new business start-up.
The process in which protection for an invention or other creation is sought, to encourage third party interest in commercialisation. Patent or industrial design protection, common legal protection methods, begin with the drafting (for patents) and filing of the relevant application with the Industrial Property Office (IPO) of Mauritius and, when appropriate, foreign patent offices. Once a patent application has been filed, it will require several years and significant financial support until issue of Mauritian and foreign patents. Industrial design protection generally proceeds faster and is less expensive.
With your involvement, the TTO staff will identify candidate companies that have the expertise, resources, and business networks to bring the technology to market. This may involve partnering with an existing company or forming a start-up. Your active involvement can enhance this process.
7a EXISTING BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
If the invention will best be commercialised by one or more existing companies, the TTO will seek potential licensees and work to identify mutual interests, goals and plans to fully commercialise this technology.
7b FORM A START-UP
If creation of a new business start-up has been chosen as the optimal commercialisation path, the TTO will work to assist the founders in planning, creating and finding funding for the start-up.
A licence agreement is a contract between two parties, in which one party’s rights to a technology are licensed (without relinquishing ownership) for financial and other benefits. A licence agreement is used with both a new start-up business and an established company. An option agreement is sometimes used to enable a third party to evaluate the technology and its market potential for a limited time before licensing.
The licensee company continues the advancement of the technology and makes other business investments to develop the product or service. This step may entail further development, regulatory approvals, sales and marketing, support, training, and other activities.
Revenues received by the TTO from licensees, for IP assigned to the TTO, are distributed to inventors and their research institutes or enterprises. A part of the revenues is retained by the TTO to sustain the activities of the TTO and support IP-related research and education.
How long does the technology transfer process take?
The process of protecting the technology and finding the right licensing partner may take months—or even years—to complete. The amount of time will depend on the development stage of the technology, the market for the technology, competing technologies, the amount of work needed to bring a new concept to market-ready status, and the resources and willingness of the licensees and the inventors.
How can I help in this process?
• Contact the TTO when you believe you have a scientific or technical innovation with potential commercial or research value. Submit the TTO Invention Disclosure Form (IDF) in sufficient time to enable evaluation of your innovation with a view to filing a patent or industrial design application before any public disclosure of your technology/design.
• To avoid putting your IP at risk and possibly hindering the opportunity to market your invention, contact the TTO before holding any discussions with people outside your institution/enterprise; if a patent application has not yet been filed, please insist a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) be signed before you describe your invention to the other party.
• On the TTO IDF, include companies and contacts you believe might be interested in your IP or who may have already contacted you about your invention. Studies have shown that most licences are executed with commercial entities known by the inventor, so your contacts can be extremely useful.
• Respond to the TTO and IP lawyer requests. While some aspects of the patent and licensing process will require significant participation on your part, we will strive to make efficient use of your valuable time.
• Keep the TTO informed of upcoming publications or interactions with companies related to your IP.