NSights Blog

Moving research innovation forward

New tools and improved processes to protect and advance discoveries

Greetings from Enterprise & Innovation, the team available to assist researchers with protecting intellectual property (IP) – including filing for patents – and finding commercial partners to help bring your novel research into the world. The process may sound complex and daunting, but we are here to assist you every step of the way and we offer a comprehensive patents and commercialization website to help.

You may ask why universities engage in filing for patents and other commercialization activities.  The reality is that in the course of your academic research, you may have discovered or created something that could benefit the world outside of your lab. Through partnerships with commercial entities, our office can work with you to develop your research into products and prepare it for the marketplace.

This transfer of technology or innovations into products is the basis for commercialization. Without this process, these potentially world-changing innovations may never be liberated from your lab and used to the full benefit of society. Examples of university discoveries that have benefitted the world include many vaccines and therapeutics for cancer, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, as well as the development of fluoride toothpaste, WiFi, seatbelts, CT scanners, DNA cloning, CRISPR-Cas, construction techniques to mitigate earthquake damage and thousands of others.

We understand you have many responsibilities: teaching, administrative matters, committees, studying, proposal writing and research, not to mention family and personal responsibilities. Your time is precious and limited. This is where Enterprise & Innovation, part of the University’s Research & Innovation division, comes in. Our office is dedicated to making this process as simple as possible so you can get back to the things that matter most to you.

To start this process, researchers are encouraged to fill out an innovation (invention) disclosure form. We have shortened the form to make it quick and easy to complete. Once your innovation disclosure is received, we will reach out to you to schedule the first meeting within two weeks to discuss the process and go through your research in-depth. From there, we can assess the patentability and the marketability of your research. Our process is fully transparent and designed to provide results in a timely manner. An overview of the full commercialization process can be found on our commercialization site.

Enterprise & Innovation has enhanced and updated the tools you can use to advance your innovations and move them into practical use:

  • Simplified online agreements: To expedite the process of working with outside partners for non-disclosure and materials transfer agreements, we have created a fillable, web form that you can access using your University log-in credentials.
  • Sierra Accelerator for Growth & Entrepreneurship: To assist you with commercial funding opportunities, we have created SAGE in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. SAGE helps with SBIR and STTR proposals including assistance with commercial development planning, letters of support and introductions to potential partners. Learn more at the SAGE site.

Our broad commercial support resources come from our connections and partnerships with several organizations including the Bay Area National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps), StartupNV, the ASCEND Hub and others. Through these partnerships, assistance is provided with new company formation, team selection, identifying company leadership, coaching and other resources for research-based companies and startups. All of these resources are bundled together through the Nevada Research & Innovation Corporation, which was created to streamline partnering with industry to commercialize discoveries and innovations created through the University of Nevada, Reno.

One important thing to remember is if you plan to publish or present anything that might become a product someday, please give us plenty of advance notice so that we can protect your innovation and maintain patent rights (if applicable).  We will never ask you to delay publication and pledge to work on your timeline.

We are eager to work with you to bridge the gap between research and industry.  Please feel free to contact Innovation@unr.edu any time. Your work does not have to be ready for commercialization.

Ellen Purpus
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