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Commercialisation/technology transfer/exploitation/translation of research describes a broad range of activities to support collaborations between universities, business and the public sector and is about the transfer of tangible and intellectual property, expertise, learning and skills between researchers and the non-academic community.

These activities are recognised by government and funders as having an important return on the UK’s investment in research, one that provides a significant driving force for enhancing economic growth and societal well-being.

For researchers, engaging in the commercialisation of their research outputs can be a way of gaining new perspectives on possible directions and approaches for research as well as diversifying income.

Discussion on commercialisation often focuses on the formation of spin-out businesses, or the licensing of intellectual property (IP), although important, commercialisation encompasses a much broader range of activities. Commercialisation of research often takes a ‘ladder of engagement’ approach, for example, starting with a piece of consultancy then developing a knowledge transfer partnership before developing a long-term multi-faceted strategic partnership.

Commercialisation includes:

  • collaborative research: provides invaluable insight into the end users and applicability of research outputs
  • consultancy: the provision of expert advice and training to external clients, and provide a platform for further engagement
  • licensing: the right to use specific research outputs (IP such as patentable inventions)
  • new businesses set-up: bringing research outputs to the market through the formation of a new business, either as a start-up or spin-out.

Commercialisation of research within a university requires the same business acumen, entrepreneurship and hard work as setting up any new business. To support this process, joining an accelerator can be a great way to ‘accelerate’ the skills, knowledge and connections that you will need to succeed. Accelerators typically include seminars and workshops on creative thinking and ideation, value proposition, market analysis and validation, raising and managing finance, managing your intellectual property, successful pitching and networking.