Tech Commercialization 101

Tech Commercialization 101


Protecting your work starts with submitting an invention disclosure to the Polsky Center.

To do, this, click on the “Inventor Portal” link on the top of the Polsky Center website, Then, follow these steps to submit your invention disclosure.

1. Visit the online Inventor Portal: The new portal enables researchers to submit new disclosures related to inventions, research materials, and software.

Click here to Access the Inventor Portal

2. Complete the Disclosure Form: Make sure that you include any relevant supporting
documents, such as any draft manuscripts, slide decks, etc. with your disclosure. Disclose
early and often.

After we have received your disclosure, a member of the Polsky Center team will be assigned to your invention and will reach out to you for further discussion. If you have any questions or need support, contact a member of the Polsky Center at


Does the Polsky Center automatically file a patent application?

The decision of whether or not to file a patent application depends on many factors. The Polsky Center evaluates the commercial potential of each submitted disclosure, including:

  • Does the technology meet the legal requirements to be patented?
  • Does the technology fulfill a significant unmet need?
  • What are the challenges associated with bringing the product or service to the marketplace?
  • What value will it have in the marketplace?
  • Is intellectual property protection necessary to incentivize a party to bring the product or service to market, and if so, is there potential to secure such protection?


How do the researchers participate in the patenting process?

When the Polsky Center team decides filing a patent application is appropriate, the more available and engaged the inventor is, the stronger and more valuable the resulting patent. Although the Polsky Center staff and external patent attorneys have technical backgrounds, the inventors are needed to review patent application drafts for accuracy and relevance.

Once an application is filed, it usually takes 2-4 years to obtain an issued patent. During that period, occasional communications may be received from the patent office, which require responses. Often, assistance from the inventors is typically required each time to help the patent attorney respond.


How are material transfer agreements (MTAs) handled?

A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a legal agreement entered into by a provider and a recipient of research material for research purposes. Sharing research products (for example, software, cell lines, transgenic animals, and monoclonal antibodies) is critical to continuing progress in science and it is the University’s intention to facilitate material exchange among researchers at different organizations. Such material may have commercial value. To protect this value, and the interests of all parties involved, these transfers are managed using an MTA, which may also be called a Research License. This protects the rights of the different parties with regard to publication, freedom of research, confidentiality, and intellectual property.

The Polsky Center Science and Technology team negotiates and manages outgoing MTAs from the University of Chicago to industry, whether or not the material is being sent for money or for no charge. It is up to the researcher to decide whether to charge a fee. If a fee is charged for a material being sent to industry, under the University’s Revenue Share Policy, contributors to the material may elect to not receive a personal share of the fee, and instead direct 85% of the gross revenues to their research.

More details are available in the University’s Revenue Share Policy. Contact a member of the Polsky Center licensing team at if you would like to send materials to a company. University Research Administration (URA) negotiates and manages all other MTAs, including those between academic institutions.

Read more about how to work with URA for incoming MTAs or those with other research institutions

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