Frequently Asked Questions

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Innovation Disclosure and Process

When should I let bluebox know about my innovative idea or research outcome?

It is often helpful for us to find out about new ideas and research as early as possible. We can then work with you to evaluate whether your research can be applied commercially or for public good and help in securing the appropriate intellectual property protection and industry partnerships where necessary. This ensures that you can both publish your work and retain future commercial opportunities. If your research is at idea stage, together we can carry out market and patent research to provide any information you may need build a research and development plan or introduce you to companies that could support development.

Can I still publish my research if I have submitted an Innovation Disclosure or when bluebox are working towards commercialising it?

Yes, we believe that publication is a great way to transfer knowledge and attract interest in your research through building your reputation. However timing is very important. If there is a clear market need and commercial opportunity, it is essential for us to protect the novel and unique aspects of your invention before they are publically disclosed. If the novelty is disclosed before patent protection is secured, commercial opportunities are likely to be lost.

There are a few possible options available. We can either investigate filing a provisional patent application prior to publication, or you can go ahead with publishing, being careful not to disclose novelty. By beginning conversations with us early, we can work together to reach the best possible outcome for all parties.

What happens if bluebox is not actively pursuing my innovation disclosure?

bluebox is not able to proceed with commercialising all disclosures that are submitted to us, as we have finite resources and not all disclosures have a clear commercial opportunity. Possible reasons for not proceeding could include the requirement for further research data, limited market need, or existence of many competing products. We are dedicated to working with you and providing meaningful feedback, recommendations about future commercial opportunities and, where possible, connections to industry that may guide on-going development. We strongly encourage all inventors to return to us if the barriers that were originally identified are overcome during your ongoing research and development, or new data becomes compelling.

How does bluebox assess innovation disclosures?

bluebox Commercialisation and Relationship Managers will work with the inventors to examine each innovation disclosure. A wide range of aspects are looked at, which include marketability of the potential products or services, potential competing technologies, size and growth potential of the relevant market, potential industry partners, commercial potential, novelty, protectability, related intellectual property, pre-existing rights associated with the intellectual property (IP), preferences of the inventors and the amount of time and money required for further development. The assessment may also include consideration of whether the IP will likely be commercialised through licensing the IP, sale of the IP or starting up a new business. Please view the our activities section of the website for more information.

What is the purpose of due diligence in commercialisation and innovation transfer?

Due diligence is performed at many stages. The purpose is to provide targeted information to support decision making at each stage of the process and guide the strategic direction of projects. The information gathered supports the decisions and strategy around Intellectual Property protection, commercial direction, and funding and development opportunities. We work closely with the QUT innovator during due diligence and appreciate any input and feedback you may have.

During due diligence, we aim to gain knowledge of Existing Innovations, Company Profiles, Market Profiles and the IP Landscape which may answer the following questions:

  • What is the market need for this innovation?
  • Who would pay for the resulting product or service?
  • Are there any similar innovations already in the market?
  • How the existing innovations are similar or different compared to our innovation?
  • What is the gold standard?
  • Are there any major problem areas/gaps in the market?
  • What companies are active in the space?
  • Who are the target customers for this innovation?
  • Does this innovation have potential applications in other markets?
  • Are there any similar patents or literature in the space?

Intellectual Property Protection

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is an intangible asset which may be developed, maintained, protected and commercialised. Protecting Intellectual Property assets appropriately, provide one with a legal monopoly that enables the owner/licensee to manufacture, use and commercialise. Intellectual property assets may require multiple forms of protection such as Copyrights, Trademarks, Confidentiality and Non-disclosure agreements, Material Transfer Agreements, Patenting, Plant Breeders Rights, Design Rights and Trade Secrets. Please see IP Australia for further information.

What are the benefits of protecting intellectual property resulting from QUT research?

Protecting intellectual property may assist in marketing the innovation to corporate or non-profit entities that may further invest in the development, manufacture, and distribution of the innovation. For example a patent may encourage commercialisation of an innovation by providing the licensees with an exclusive period of ownership rights of the innovation (e.g., 20 years from the date of filing). QUT researchers may benefit from patenting by demonstrating that their work is innovative, returning commercialisation revenue to researchers and their departments/institutes, increasing the impact of your research through successfully transferring innovations to the real world through bluebox.

What is the purpose of database searching?

Primarily we need to identify any patents or other publically available documents that may limit or prevent commercial opportunities during the commercialisation process. Knowledge is gained by examining new inventions and ideas, through comparing their features and functionality with existing patents in the space. The main objectives are to discover any patents or literature that may prevent our novelty or non-obvious claims on the innovation.

Freedom-to-operate searches may also be required to be conducted to assess if an invention can be performed without infringing the intellectual property rights or others. If there is a patent that seems to closely relate to your invention, it may not affect your freedom-to-operate. There are a number of reasons that you could still have freedom to operate, including:

  • Patent has only been filed in selected countries
  • Patent has not been granted in some countries
  • Patent may have expired
  • Your activity falls within the experimental use exemption

We may consult a patent attorney to assist us in identifying protectability and freedom to operate of an innovation. Infringing the patent rights of others is an offence and may result in large and costly penalties. Please contact us at the earliest convenience to discuss your innovation.

I have been asked to sign a Deed of Assignment � what is it for, and what happens if I don't sign?

Research, consultancy, collaboration, CRC or joint venture agreements often require QUT to ensure it owns certain intellectual property. Another situation where QUT needs to ensure it owns intellectual property is where the intellectual property has potential to be commercialised. A "Deed of Assignment" is a legal document used to assign intellectual property from one person to another person or organisation. For QUT, a Deed of Assignment legally clarifies the ownership of the relevant intellectual property, allowing other transactions to go ahead.

bluebox rencourages inventors to sign Deeds of Assignment prior to executing intellectual property protection and commencement of a proof-of-concept project. If you choose not to sign the "Deed of Assignment", bluebox will not proceed with protecting or investing in the development and commercialisation of the intellectual property if there is doubt around ownership.

Benefits of working with bluebox and signing a "Deed of Assignment" may include:

  • Greater certainty around ownership of intellectual property increases the likelihood of a commercial outcome
  • Access to bluebox expertise and payment of commercialisation costs
  • A share of commercialisation revenue

Is authorship the same as inventorship?

Authorship on a publication is not the same as inventorship. An inventor must have made an inventive contribution to the subject matter claimed in the patent application in accordance with the law. At bluebox before filing a provisional patent application we will instruct an external patent attorney to conduct a formal inventorship determination to ensure correct filing particulars in accordance with patent law.

Who is an inventor?

An inventor is someone who is able to claim at least some role in the final conception of the invention. Inventorship is a legal determination. An invention may have multiple inventors. bluebox engages external patent attorney to conduct formal inventorship determinations where they consider the nature and extent of each person's involvement in the conception and creation of the invention. Failure to list the correct inventors on patents is grounds for invalidating the patent in several jurisdictions.

What is a patent?

A patent is a commercial tool to protect an invention by giving the owner or authorised licensee a monopoly of up to 20 years (sometimes longer for pharmaceutical inventions). Patents may be granted to novel, useful and non-obvious innovations by the government's patent office. A patent granted in Australia is only effective in protecting rights in Australia. A patent is a legal contract between the government and the owner that provides "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling" the invention in Australia or "importing" the invention into Australia.

Is there such a thing as an international patent?

Although an international patent does not exist, an international agreement known as the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides a streamlined filing procedure for most industrialised nations. For Australian applicants, a PCT application is generally filed one year after the corresponding AUS application (either provisional or regular) has been submitted. The PCT application must be later filed in the national patent office of any country in which the applicant wishes to seek patent protection, generally within 30 months of the earliest claimed filing date.

There are two advantages to filing PCT. Firstly it delays the need to file costly foreign applications until 30 months after the initial filing date, giving the opportunity to further develop, evaluate and/or market the invention for licensing. Second the international preliminary examination often provides the applicant a chance to address any examiner objections prior to national phase, which can save significant costs in the prosecuting foreign patent applications.

What is a provisional patent application?

A provisional patent application is a placeholder that establishes an earlier filing date for a later filed complete patent application. Generally the final complete patent application must be filed within one year of the filing date of the provisional application. A provisional application should be filed prior to public disclosure. Please see FAQ on public disclosure for more information. A manuscript, poster, presentation slides and other materials can form the basis for the preparation of a provisional application by a patent attorney, but often additional information is required.

What types of innovations are patentable? What criteria determine whether an innovation should be patented?

Patentable subject matter includes processes, machines, products, and compositions of matter as are any new and useful improvements thereof. Laws of nature, physical phenomena and abstract ideas are generally not patentable and each jurisdiction has different patent laws.

The patenting process can be a very long and costly process which bluebox approaches as a strategic investment for QUT. Through due diligence we aim to determine if the innovation has commercial potential within a reasonable timeframe. If there is sufficient commercial potential we will identify a protection strategy and submit an application to the Intellectual Property Review Committee which makes a final recommendation based on all the evidence provided.

What is the Experimental Use Exemption?

The recent Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act 2012, otherwise known as "Raising the Bar", amends the Patents Act 1990. The reforms include an experimental use exemption from patent infringement, which applies to certain work done for experimental purposes relating to patented subject matter. The following activities are considered exempt:

  • determining the properties of the invention
  • determining the scope of a patent claim relating to the invention
  • improving or modifying the invention
  • determining the validity of the patent or of a patent claim relating to the invention
  • determining whether the patent for the invention would be, or has been, infringed by the doing of an act.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. A court may find other activities also fall within the meaning of 'experimental'.

How long does it take to obtain a patent? What is the cost of obtaining a patent?

Often patenting is an effective means of protecting your innovation, making innovation transfer and commercialisation possible. As patent protection is often a requirement of a potential commercialisation partner (licensee) because it can protect the often sizeable investment required to bring the innovation to market. An patent application that has entered national phase in the following jurisdictions, Australia, US, Japan, and some EU countries, can cost anywhere from $350,000 to $500,000 over the life of the patent (usually around 20 years). Typically it can cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to file a patent application, sometimes more. An additional $10,000 to $20,000 may be required to obtain a granted patent in each jurisdiction, once all examiners objections are satisfied. National Phase is when the costs begin to exponentially rise with each jurisdiction costing at least $20,000 or more. Once the patent is issued in each jurisdiction, certain maintenance fees are required to keep the patent "alive".

It typically takes anywhere from 10 to 12 years from the date of application to secure full protection in all of these countries. bluebox takes a strategic approach to patenting and may not embark on the patenting process until clear commercial potential and a business case is identified.

What is a public disclosure?

A public disclosure is any transfer or disclosure of information about your innovation, written or oral, into the public domain (any person or audience outside QUT) or to any party not under a confidentiality agreement. A public disclosure that contains "enabling" information may include sufficient detail where someone "skilled in the art" could reproduce the innovation. Please seek bluebox advice, especially before presenting at conferences or submitting manuscripts.

It is often best to use confidentiality agreements and material transfer agreements to protect any confidential research outcomes or information. It is important to use these agreements to maintain control of information and material, preserve the value of the intellectual property, maintain an edge over competitors, protect patentability, and protect from liability.

Written public disclosure includes published materials such as, journal articles, abstracts, posters, book chapters, and proceedings. Information that is distributed or discussed at non-confidential meetings, conferences, seminars or forums, private correspondence and catalogued graduate theses. Electronic transmission of abstracts, articles, or research reports is also a form of public disclosure. Descriptions of research projects on your departmental or faculty websites may also constitute public disclosure.

Oral public disclosure can include formal talks, meeting presentations, departmental seminars open to the public, oral theses defence and even discussions with a single person about your invention. Please contact us to discuss your future plans for public disclosure, we can work with you to protect any intellectual property.

Common public disclosures:

  • Information discussions in a non-confidential setting
  • Web posting
  • Oral presentation at Conferences
  • Poster presentation at Conferences
  • Abstract publication available to scientific public or meeting attendees either in print or online
  • Manuscript publication including online publications prior to the journals hard copy release
  • Thesis submission to a library or outside source
  • Thesis publication
  • Funded government grant
  • Grant Applications

Please contact bluebox before you embark on any form of public disclosure, so together we can determine the best way forward.

Can I talk about my research?

It may be ok to talk about your research if the discussions are confidential or if the intellectual property is already protected. You are able to discuss your research and innovations with QUT staff, as all staff are bound by confidentiality. However QUT students may not be bound by a confidentiality agreement. If you believe your research has commercial potential and you want to discuss aspects with non-QUT employees, the following strategies could be used to protect the intellectual property:

  • If IP protection is in place, you may discuss your research details which are covered by the patent applications or other forms of IP protection.
  • No patent protection in place, please ensure a confidentiality agreement is in place with the external parties before discussing any of your work. If you discuss in the absence of an agreement you will compromise any potential protection and commercialisation of your innovation. Please contact bluebox before proceeding with any discussions with external parties about research with commercial potential, we can work with you to identify the best protection and commercialisation strategy.
  • have discussions without disclosing the nuts and bolts of the innovation.

I am having a visitor to my research lab. Is there anything I need to do?

If the visitor is not a QUT employee, then you may need to consider using a confidentiality agreement before discussing your research and showing the visitor around your laboratory. Please see the FAQ on confidentiality agreements for more information.

Someone from industry contacted me. What do I do?

Often confidential information will need to be discussed when developing a relationship with a potential industry partner. This may include laboratory data, methods of production, design of specialised equipment and potential markets and marketing information. We suggest that a binding confidentiality agreement is signed by all parties before entering any discussions with potential partners from other universities, research institutes and industry. Please contact us or the Division of Research and Commercialisation at the earliest convenience to discuss the drafting of a confidentiality agreement. Please do not sign any agreement as QUT has authorised signatories able to execute certain agreements for QUT.

What is a Confidentiality Agreement (CDA) and when should I use one?

A CDA is a confidentiality agreement, also known as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). These are used when bluebox or QUT disclose confidential information to an external party, where the external party agrees not to disclose the confidential information to anyone else or use the information commercially. The CDA allows details of your research to be discussed and remain confidential, and must be in place before discussing with any external party. bluebox or OCS should be contacted regarding executing a confidentiality agreement.

What is a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) and why are they important?

A MTA is a material transfer agreement, used when bluebox or QUT needs to provide material (e.g. sample) to an external party for research or commercial evaluation. The external party agrees not to use the material commercially or provide it to other parties. As part of the MTA the external party also often agrees to provide all results of the research or evaluation to QUT and QUT will retain ownership rights of all results and the material. We strongly advise you to contact us or OCS if you are sent someone else's MTA � your rights could be given away.

Research Notebooks

What is the purpose of the research notebooks?

The research notebooks are produced for use by QUT research staff and students by QUT's innovation and knowledge transfer company bluebox. One of the primary purposes of the Research Notebook is to support the documentation of work that may be patentable. To support patenting activities, it is necessary to provide clear, concise, chronological entries with specific dates. To rely on these dates, you must have at least one non-inventor corroborate that the results were actually obtained and that he or she understood the invention by signing and dating the "Disclosed to and Understood by" signature blocks.

Research Notebooks are a vital record of your work, whether it is for patent purposes, legal records or documenting drug research under Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) guidelines. The Research Notebook can help to prove:

  • Exact details and dates of conception
  • Details and dates of reduction to practice
  • Diligence in reducing the invention to practice
  • Details regarding the structure and operation of the invention
  • Experimental observations and results
  • A chronological record of your work

What are the research notebooks used for?

Research Notebook are used to record ideas, inventions, hypotheses, experimentation records, observations and other details is a vital part of any research activity, or any activity where confidentiality is an important consideration. The Research Notebook serves as an organisational tool and a memory aid, and may be particularly important in research projects which may have commercial potential and where protecting intellectual property may be desirable.

Why would I want to keep a Research Notebook?

There are many reasons why you might want to keep a Research Notebook:

  • To provide you with a complete record of why experiments / hypotheses were initiated and how they were performed. Your Research Notebook also gives you a place to put the reams of data you collect and a place to paste the statistical outcomes and graphs generated from your analysis.
  • To encourage sound and critical thinking. Keeping a thorough Research Notebook provides you with a forum to challenge yourself, to pose questions, and to jot down important thoughts and comments about the experimental design and how your results might eventually be interpreted.
  • To provide information to a person who is interested in continuing your research project in your absence. Other or future researchers may want to repeat and extend your experimentation if you leave, and it is therefore critical that you leave a complete record of procedures, reagents, data and thoughts to pass on to them.
  • The correct, detailed and accurate completion of a Research Notebook outlining all research undertaken during the course of a project is critical for obtaining patent protection, particularly within the United States. Whilst most countries award patents based on the first to file a patent application citing the new technology, US patent law requires that inventors satisfy the 'first to invent' criteria. Accordingly, this system is substantially reliant upon the production of documentary evidence, such as Research Notebooks, to support the precise timing of an invention and/or its reduction to practice.

Where should my Research Notebook be kept?

The Research Notebook is an important record of your work at QUT. As such, it is important that it be stored in a secure place when not in use, to ensure it is not misplaced or inadvertently disclosed to a third party.

If you are not continuing to use the Research Notebook or have exhausted its capacity, you should notify your Institute or Faculty or contact bluebox to ensure that your Research Notebook is archived in accordance with QUT policies and procedures. The Research Notebook remains the property of QUT and should not be removed from QUT premises. This remains the case even if you leave QUT, take a sabbatical or are seconded to work or collaborate with other parties.

Who owns my research notebook?

The Research Notebook is the property of QUT and should not be removed from QUT premises. This remains the case even if you leave QUT, take a sabbatical or are seconded to work or collaborate with other parties.

bluebox POC fund

What is POC funding?

The bluebox Proof-of-Concept (POC) Fund has been established to enable the development of intellectual property to "proof of concept" and to enhance the ability to achieve QUT's commercial goal of reinforcing its applied emphasis and securing significant commercial and practical outcomes �social, community or commercial. The success indicator for each investment will be specific, targeted application to measurable commercial milestones. The fund does not operate as a general research support grant.

How much POC funding can I apply for?

Currently, funding of up to $200,000 is available for biological and chemical sciences projects, and $100,000 for others. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for the amount that is actually needed to achieve the proof-of-concept outcome, and not to under-budget in an effort to increase the likelihood of approval. Similarly, a budget which is unnecessarily high will not be approved. Funding will normally be awarded for a period of up to 18 months, although shorter periods are favoured.

What is the minimum / maximum duration of a project?

There is no minimum duration but a maximum duration of 18 months is expected, to be reviewed on an annual basis.

When can I apply for POC funding?

The POC fund is open for applications at any time, through the appropriate bluebox manager.

How do I apply for POC funding?

bluebox staff can provide you with an application form which requires the applicant(s) to provide information on technology background, IP position, potential market, competitive environment, technical and commercial risks and possible commercialisation pathway. The application form should be completed in collaboration with a bluebox project manager, who will assist you in its preparation and provide advice. Applicants are required to provide a budget for personnel, equipment and consumables, and milestones against which the funds will be expended.

What activities are eligible for POC funding?

Suitable projects for POC funding will be those that have a high probability of reaching a significant commercial milestone using the POC funds (eg. building and testing a prototype, completing animal studies, performing comparative tests against a relevant gold standard, experimental data which supports broad application of the IP).

    Examples of eligible activities include:

  • Conducting a commercially relevant experiment (e.g. comparative testing against industry relevant products, animal trials for a biotechnology project, etc)
  • Purchase of consumables and equipment essential to the project
  • Outsourcing of specialised tasks such as in vitro or in vivo studies, prototype construction, synthesis of required compounds, economic feasibility assessment
  • Engaging a consultant with relevant industry knowledge to review the project and provide technical or commercial input Personnel costs where QUT personnel will be dedicated to the project
  • Development of a graphical user interface for a software project
  • Travel costs to attend meetings with potential industry partners

Funds may be used to engage external contractors or collaborators where this will lead to a better or faster outcome. For example, if the objective is to develop a piece of prototype software, it may be preferable to outsource this task to an external software developer over a three-month period, rather than to have a QUT PhD student or RA complete the same task over the course of a year.

Does the innovation have to be protected by patents prior to applying?

No, although this would often be the case.

Can students apply for POC funding?

Research students can apply directly for POC funding, but QUT must own and have the right to commercialise the relevant IP.

What activities are ineligible?

The bluebox POC fund does not operate as a general research support grant. It therefore cannot be used to fund ongoing research activities already funded, or to leverage research funding sources such as ARC or NHMRC grants. Additionally activities which are not funded by POC include:

  • Further research which does not achieve a proof-of-concept outcome
  • Further research which does not have a reasonable prospect of commercial potential and impact addressing demonstrable societal, community or industrial needs
  • Patenting or patent searching (these costs are typically already met by bluebox)
  • QUT overheads
  • Purchase of significant items of plant (capital equipment)

Are overheads able to be included?

No. If POC funding is to be used to meet costs within QUT, the costs should be only actual direct costs (including any staffing on-costs).

Is POC funding a grant?

No. Although the use of POC funds does not require formation of a start-up company, the nature of the funding is more like an investment than a grant, in that it is intended to achieve a specific commercial outcome. In addition, funding is milestone based upon achievement of the defined objectives.

POC funds cannot be counted toward QUT's research income as they have been provided by the University.

Who makes the funding decisions?

A committee comprised of the bluebox CEO, the Director of the Office of Commercial Services and a relevant bluebox board member makes POC funding recommendations to the bluebox board based on:

  • The completed application
  • A recommendation from the bluebox manager assigned to the project, and
  • Any other due diligence information that is relevant, including reports by external experts or referees.
  • Presentation by researchers to the POC committee.

How long does the application review process take?

Applications are considered on a rolling basis, so once the application has been completed it is normally assessed within four to six weeks, depending upon availability of information and referee feedback. On some occasions specific issues may be identified which require additional information to be provided, and this may add to the timeframe for approving the release of funds.

What are the selection criteria?

Your application should be persuasive and:

  • Indicate the ways the proposed innovation may have a positive economic impact or public good outcome.
  • Provide clear grounds that there is a demonstrable and real market opportunity for the innovation.
  • Clearly express what must be undertaken to achieve a commercial outcome from the project.
  • Describe the experience of key personnel; both in the research and development (R&D) process and in the progression to commercialisation.
  • Confirm that access to all prior intellectual property rights necessary for this project have been secured and are owned by the QUT.
  • Include a clear description of the proposed strategy for commercial exploitation of the innovation.
  • Be realistic in terms of both the opportunity targeted in the application and the position of the market.
  • Give reasonable project costs and adequately justify them in the application.
  • Clearly articulate the program of work.

How is funding paid?

In the case of a POC project undertaken internally at QUT, the applicant, through their faculty or institute office, will set up a dedicated account into which the POC funds can be transferred by bluebox. Depending on the milestone structure, the funds may be transferred spread over several tranches.

Are there any other sources of POC funds?

There are a number of external funding schemes which can fund certain POC activities - eg. NHMRC Development grants or Commercialisation Australia. bluebox has assisted several QUT groups to apply for grants, with many successful in receiving funding.

Does POC funding mean that a start-up company has to be formed?

No. The POC fund is specifically targeted at projects for which formation of a start-up company would not yet be feasible. If the POC activities are successful, and there is a commercial case for creating a start-up company, as well as some prospect of securing funding, then a start-up company may be considered.

Are there any intellectual property implications of accepting POC funding?

IP created using POC funds will usually be owned by QUT. Similarly, any equipment purchased will be owned by QUT.

Are there any other conditions associated with receiving POC funding?

Recipients of POC funding are expected to comply with the QUT IP Policy and all other relevant University policies and protocols. All successful applicants will be required to attend a half day pre-POC workshop to establish the processes, financial arrangements, and reporting requirements for the project. Any additional requirements will also be communicated prior to the commencement of the project.

How will success of the project be measured?

The success of each POC investment will be measured by whether it achieves the stated outcomes, and whether this allows the project to be advanced toward commercialisation and uptake by industry. "Fast failure" is also an acceptable outcome - ie. the POC activities may highlight a fundamental impediment to commercialisation (eg. invention does not work as expected under industry conditions, does not perform better than the competition, or the economics do not stack up).

Outcomes from successful POC projects may include credible technical demonstration; patents; licences; start-up companies; jobs / skills creation; innovative technologies and processes.

Recipients of POC funding will be required to submit a detailed report on completion of the POC activities.

Innovation Transfer and Commercialisation

How long does Innovation Transfer take?

The process of protecting the innovation, finding the right innovation transfer pathway and or licensing partner may take months or even years to complete, if ever. The amount of time depends on the innovations development stage, the market, competing innovations, the amount of work required to bring the new innovation to the marketplace, and the resources of the potential licensee. Often university innovations are at a very early stage, too early to attract industry investment, we are unable to find licensees for all technologies.

Who negotiates the commercial aspects in transferring the innovation to outside parties?

Generally bluebox is responsible for negotiating the the commercialisation of QUT research, unless the licensing is being handled by Office of Commercial Services, Office of Research or the Development Office. bluebox works in collaboration with the researchers throughout our process to develop an appropriate development and commercialisation strategy which may result in an IP licensing deal, IP sale or the development of a start-up company. It is vital that the researcher is involved in the entire process to ensure success, often having vast knowledge of the space and contacts with relevant companies who may be interested in the idea.

What does it take to commercialise?

The innovation transfer and commercialisation process definitely relies on the people involved and is a team sport requiring a dynamic members consisting of technical, business, intellectual property management and legal backgrounds. Additionally a motivated research team to commercialise intellectual property, research outcomes at or near proof-of-concept, demonstratable competitive advantage vs. state-of-the-art, IP owned by QUT and not already licensed/encumbered, scope for IP protection, significant market, industry appetite for licensing (if a license deal), Funding available (if start up company).

What is a licence?

Licences are the most common model under which commercialisation revenue is earned. A licence from QUT may allow companies to manufacture, use and sell an innovation. A licensee is chosen based on its ability to commercialise the technology for the benefit of QUT, Australia and the general public. Different innovations require different licensing strategies therefore every licence negotiated are different. bluebox negotiates both exclusive and non-exclusive licences and may limit the licence to a field-of-use, depending on the nature of the invention and the market for it. bluebox manages the payment of royalties and monitors compliance with the licence agreement.

What is a start-up and what needs to be considered before creating one?

A start-up is a new business entity formed to commercialise one or more related intellectual properties. Forming a start-up company is an alternative to licensing the IP to an established business. It can be very rewarding through adding value to intellectual property and can create jobs. However there has to be very clear incentives to begin a start-up company as they are very expensive, time consuming and risky. Key factors that bluebox considers whilst assessing the possibility of starting up a company include (and not limited to):

  • Large development risk? Another established company in the industry is often unwilling to take on the development risk for an unproven technology/innovation.
  • A start-up company requires raising external capital through Angel Investors or Venture Capitalist firms who in exchange for their investment will receive shares in the company. Will the cost of development through the start-up give investors the required rate of return? There has to be a clear rate of return to investors, if this is not clear then there is no point in starting up a company.
  • What is the potential for multiple products or services? Most successful companies have more than one product or service. Often platform technologies have the potential for multiple products.
  • Other Key Questions are: Does the innovation have an adequate competitive advantage and target market? Will the potential start-up have revenues that will sustain and grow a company? Are the inventors committed to the continual development of the innovation through a start-up company?

Does every commercialisation project follow the same process?

No, every project is different and has its own unique requirements. Our commercialisation process provides a general guideline for stages that should be ticked off along the way, but no two projects will follow the exact same path. We can expect to face hurdles to commercialisation along the way � most ideas fail a few times. For example, an interested company could find a solution to a problem in-house, meaning that we have to find a new partner. Our commercial team have years of experience in tackling such hurdles and one of the main lessons learned is that if the research team is involved throughout, the project is more likely to get to market successfully.

Why should industry partnerships be established early in the commercialisation process?

We believe that it's important to begin conversations with companies as early as possible. It can be useful to bounce ideas off people in the industry to understand the market needs and problems, and identify opportunities for new technologies. These relationships can also be valuable later on in the process when we're looking to identify suitable partners or licensee/assignee targets. bluebox can help by establishing connections, advising on discussions around Intellectual Property and supporting the development of collaborative relationships.

As an inventor, should I be involved during the commercialisation process?

Definitely! Commercialisation is a team sport, so we feel that it is important for us to work closely with you during the commercialisation process. We know that researches have immense knowledge skills, networks and capability so it is valuable to have your input during the way. We believe that your expertise and our commercialisation experience are an ideal combination in taking emerging innovations to the marketplace.

What is Venture Capital? What do Venture Capitalists look for?

High risk equity investment in a start-up company, owning shares in company with an interest in building on the company's value through growth and creation of the intellectual property portfolio. Venture capitalists will stay for the long term (up to 10 years) and are ultimately interested in large profit on investment through an exit, either through publicly listing the start-up company or trade sale of the intellectual property assets.

Usually they are interested in a start-up company that has a strong intellectual property portfolio that answers a market need, competitive advantage, clear path to market, growth market, high quality human capital, strategic plan and business model for growth and value creation milestones, how the money will be spent and the exit opportunities (public listing or trade sale of IP assets).

How are the revenues from commercialisation successes distributed?

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) IP policy indicates that net commercialisation revenues, which can be in the form of up-front licence payments, royalties or revenue from intellectual property sales, are distributed as follows:

  • Contributor(s) 1/3
  • Contributor(s) Department/Faculty 1/3
  • QUT 1/3

See the Queensland University of Technology's Intellectual Property Policy for more information.

Can students share in the returns from commercialisation successes if they have made an inventive contribution?

Yes, students who have contributed to the inventive step of an innovation can gain a share of revenue distributions if they assign their IP to QUT. IP assignment is an important step because it is difficult for bluebox to commercialise projects that are not 100% owned by QUT. However, the upside of students assigning their IP to QUT is that they receive a share of revenue payments if the project is successfully commercialised by bluebox.


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