For an invention to have impact on society it must be made visible. An obvious way to do this is to connect it to an organisation within the relevant market. The best way to exploit an invention however differs for each case, sometimes a license is a good option, other times a spin out company may be best set up. The TU Delft researches the best options for all of its intellectual property.
After a patent has been filed, the Valorisation Centre will start the business development process, consisting of three phases:
> Phase 1: Initial market analysis
> Phase 2: search for partners
> Phase 3: Transfer/License Agreement/Term sheet
In phase 1 all missing information on the invention is collected with the help of the inventor. If the IP may be commercially exploited, the next step is to explore the relevant market(s). The feasibility of a market launch also depends on the technology readiness level (TRL) of the invention. Depending on the situation, an execution model is chosen: license or spin-out.
Potential partners are selected in phase 2. A business developer will assess the interest for a particular invention and its IP in the relevant market. The network and executive role of the inventor plays an important part in the selection of partners. Preference is given to a long-term relationship between the TU Delft and the partner, so that the technology can be further developed. Phase 2 should be completed before deciding on the extension of the patent, which is done after 12 months.
In phase 3, a contract is negotiated with the best candidate on the basis of the information from phase 1 and 2. Arrangements have to be made on how the IP may be used. A final license agreement may be the result of phase 3, when licensee is chosen as the best option. When a spinout is created the main characteristics of the transaction are recorded in a term sheet, including the distribution of stock.
A signed purchase agreement, licensing agreement or term sheet marks the end of the business development process. A term sheet will be worked out in detail at a later stage, for example in a shareholders ‘ agreement or in the company articles of Association. Usually both are set up, in which Delft Enterprises takes the lead.