The Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships is focused on integrating the university’s efforts in technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, and corporate partnerships for sponsored research and education.

two faculty talking in the Bizzell Memorial Library

Category: Commercialization

Does my Research Tool have Commercial Value?

I recently saw a headline stating that the research antibodies and reagents market is projected to reach USD 16.1 billion by 2027.  My first thought was WOW, that’s a big number.  My second thought was WHAT A COINCIDENCE, I just had another inquiry from Pharma requesting a license for a cell line.  So here we are with my first contribution to the OICP blog page, how to determine if your research tools might be licensable.

When we think about successfully licensed university innovations, the first thing to come to mind is probably NOT a research reagent.  But if the above projection, which is based on growing demand for personalized medicine, structure-based drug design, proteomics and genomics research, is even partially accurate, perhaps we should?   It is likely that you have created such reagents, perhaps for a specific experiment or to obtain data for a publication or grant proposal.  You may have even tried to find materials from a supplier and ended up making your own because they weren’t available. Obviously not all of these will have commercial potential, and many will not.  So how do you know if your research tool may have commercial potential?

I approach this with four questions:

  • Was it difficult to create? 
  • Would it be useful to others?
  • Has it been published and have others requested it? 
  • Can it be used in drug development or some other commercial process?

As the creator of these materials, you can certainly share them with fellow researchers under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) and doing so is integral to the progression of research and is a requirement under some funding agencies.  But if you answered yes to any of the above, and especially if you have multiple requests and/or if commercial entities are reaching out to you, that may a good indicator of commercial potential.  Isn’t that worth exploring? 

A couple of examples of license arrangements for research tools include commercial reagent suppliers and pharmaceutical companies.  Suppliers are interested in providing reagents to the research community; novel antibodies, cell lines, chemicals, enzyme’s, plasmids, proteins, media, etc. can be licensed to these vendors and they in turn are granted permission to provide them for specified uses.  This model can help relieve investigators from supplying their materials to fellow researchers when the burden becomes excessive.  Pharmaceutical companies can look to academia for cell lines and mouse models that are useful in drug discovery and development; they may discover these assets in your publications and published grant applications and may be willing to license them rather than devote time and resources to creating their own.  

And this brings me back to my inquiry from Pharma for the cell line and my reason for the blog.  Did I mention this cell line is one of our most frequently licensed assets?  Did I mention that research tools don’t typically require patent protection in order to be licensed and generate revenue?  Did I mention that the revenue received is shared with you, the inventor, per the University IP policy? 

So, the next time you create a research tool that you think may have commercial value, please do come see us – it IS worth exploring and we look forward to exploring that possibility with you. 

Innovation Pathway – What is iPath?

Back in October of last year while talking to two senior administrators at OU’s College of Medicine, I was walking them through what I wanted to be doing on the venture development front.  Out of the blue I declared “I’m tired of talking about what I want to do…so why don’t we just DO something?  Why don’t I solicit our researchers and offer to take then through an ideation and strategy building process for those wanting to see their innovations commercialized?”  And thus, Innovation Pathway was quickly born put into the hands of our first cohort of researchers.  We have since initiated the concept with a second cohort.

What is Innovation Pathway?  In just a few words it is a process to help a scientific researcher articulate the business value of their innovation.  But it is so much more!  It’s all about understanding the value of markets in getting innovations in the hands of users.  It’s about briefly and succinctly explaining the application of the innovation to investors, customers, future employees and others who can lend aide on the journey to the market.  It’s about designing a workable strategy to obtain capital for commercialization activity and ultimately market presence.  It’s even about learning how to leverage the knowledge of mentors and investors in realizing your dream of market impact.

Originally named Innovation Pathway, now shortened to iPath, this program held its inaugural installment in the first half of 2022 at OU’s Health Science Center Campus. The program has now been expanded to accommodate faculty, students or staff innovators from any of the OU campuses. Any OU founder – faculty, staff or student – with an idea to test in the market is encouraged to apply.  You can apply by clicking on the IPath Application link on our Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships website at

On our website, you can find the entire list of things you will learn in the program, including market validation, customer discovery, finding the right investors, the components of a pitch, why investors say “no,” presenting your opportunity, identifying funding needs, what investors look for, insights from entrepreneurs, developing your plan, and importantly, refining your financials.

We have refined the content down in such a way as to bring you all this via an online learning ideation program that lets you progress through it at your own pace – you just commit to six weekly hour-long sessions for review.  And all this culminates in a two-full day commitment to attend the closing workshop focused on mentorship, capital strategy development and investor pitches.

But perhaps the most exciting part of the program is the speakers, investors and mentors that come in to spend time with us.  It is these treasures that make us realize how networking, teamwork and joint efforts are what make the difference in successfully taking the pathway to the market.

The Gossip of a Journey with iPath

Innovation Pathway, for the OUHSC campus, had its first group session beginning in January 2022 and concluding in April 2022. This was an incredible group, led by an incredible facilitator. Let me tell you about that journey.

My, what a “Path” they/we took. These amazing 6 individuals dedicated time to go on this journey. They poured their heart and soul along with the time they spent creating their innovation into an unheard-of program, by someone new to the campus, to get their innovation to the market. They started out as strangers at an incredibly large university and ended as colleagues and friends.

This journey was not a cut and paste journey, it was often redirected due to COVID restrictions being placed upon the university but with every redirection this cohort remained dedicated to finishing this program. Which in turn will benefit each of them in the future.

The facilitator showed honest yet compassionate guidance, which in turn brought out these same characteristics in the participants with each other. It was an honor to witness their growth when they began to guide each other by offering a different point of view as they discussed as a group each other’s innovation. They encouraged each other to be successful.

So we all like a little gossip….. Here is some gossip. I think at some point each of these individual participants wanted to throw in the hat, cry, scream and maybe even cuss. But what was amazing, each one fought thru and persevered. They persevered! It was so Impressive!

We just started our second iPath session this week. It was evident with the Kickoff Zoom that there is reserve. But, just wait. In September we will be celebrating this amazing group and their incredible accomplishments.

If you get an opportunity to visit with anyone that has participated in the OICP iPath Program, I encourage you to take the time! You will not be disappointed.

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