Service for Inventors at Graz University of Technology: Technology Exploitation Office Celebrates its Success

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Graz University of Technology is leading the field in Austria. It is a long way from an invention to its commercialization and most often it is not straight forward. It has been exactly three years since the Graz University of Technology started offering support to its scientists regarding protection and commercialization of intellectual property: Those having an inspiring idea with application potential contact the staff of the Technology Exploitation Office. The experts from the office evaluate and guide the technology on the way to its commercialization. The success of the office founded in 2004 is convincing: On the occasion of its third anniversary it has shown to be the most successful office of this kind at an Austrian university. The metrics applied are the number of inventions, claimed inventions and the number of patent applications in 2005 and 2006.

Graz University of Technology is leading the field in Austria. It is a long way from an invention to its commercialization and most often it is not straight forward. It has been exactly three years since the Graz University of Technology started offering support to its scientists regarding protection and commercialization of intellectual property: Those having an inspiring idea with application potential contact the staff of the Technology Exploitation Office. The experts from the office evaluate and guide the technology on the way to its commercialization. The success of the office founded in 2004 is convincing: On the occasion of its third anniversary it has shown to be the most successful office of this kind at an Austrian university. The metrics applied are the number of inventions, claimed inventions and the number of patent applications in 2005 and 2006.

In questions of creativity and inventive talent in scientific research the scientists of Graz University of Technology lead the field: "Our scientists are the clear number one in Austria concerning the number of inventions," Thomas Bereuter, Director of the Technology Exploitation of the Graz University of Technology, looking back on the success on the occasion of the third anniversary of his organization. As a matter of fact there have been 148 inventions since the foundation of the commercialization unit, in 97 cases the rights were claimed by the University and in 86 cases an application for a patent has been filed.

"The number of inventions demonstrate the innovation potential as well as the inventiveness of scientists at the university. We are therefore pleased that Graz University of Technology is ahead according to all evaluated parameters," refers Bereuter to the data surveyed by the Austrian Rectors´ Conference for the years 2005 and 2006.

Bright ideas challenged by the market -- The Technology Exploitation Office is the central contact point for all members of the Graz University of Technology who want to let their bright ideas as well as the results of long lasting research and development be examined. Experienced experts record the reported inventions. After a thorough check of the inventions a patent application is submitted and the invention is guided on the way to its commercialization. The decision whether to apply for a patent or not is made within only six to eight weeks.

"An invention has to prove technical and, most important, economical potential. Features of the invention must have a commercial meaning for the customers. Apart from being new an innovation must show an innovative step as well as definite ownership," describes Bereuter the usual criteria in reviewing an invention.

Quality comes first -- According to Bereuter: "An intensive check of the technology at the beginning of the commercialisation process may be time-consuming, but allows to focus on high quality inventions and experienced scientists." The Technology Exploitation Office takes over marketing of the technology and negotiations with the licensees but finances the patenting costs as well.

"The risks in patenting and commercialization are minimized whereas the potential value is maximized," explains Bereuter the support for the scientists. If an invention is commercialized, i.e. if there is a license agreement etc. a third of the revenues goes directly to the inventors and a further third to their direct field of research activity. A third remains fort he funding the university. The services for the commercialization of inventions became necessary with the change of ownership of inventions created by employees of universities implemented in 2004: Creative minds at Austrian universities have the obligation to report their inventions to the Rectorate which can claim ownership. Intended are effects like those of the Bayh-Dole-Act in 1980 in the US.

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