Initial business case

The Initial Business Case stage allows the University to assess each idea, to carry-out a triage of the opportunity and where appropriate, to build the business case for progression. It is at this stage that a business case and Project Action Plan are prepared to gain approval to progress the idea towards commercialisation. Any Initial Business Case will be prepared by the IP Commercialisation team with support from Frontier IP Group. The following is an overview of the process steps.

1. Assess

The idea is assessed for novelty, alignment with University priorities, innovation, freedom to operate, risks and possible strength of protection. Formal IP protection will be considered and the most appropriate mechanism recommended providing adequate protection for future opportunities. Formal IP registration will be subject to budgets, potential return on investment and the approved business case. Preliminary checks are made to ensure that the University does not infringe on anyone else’s IPR.

Each initiative will be assessed and prioritised against the University’s strategic objectives. There will be a number of potential outcomes from triage of the idea:

a) The opportunity is deemed to be aligned to the University’s mission and priorities.
b) The opportunity is deemed to be of interest to the University but is not aligned to priority areas.
c) The opportunity is not of interest to the University. 

note: In cases where the opportunity is not considered to align with the University's priority areas/not of interest to the University, there are other routes available for consideration. One such route offered by the University is the Formation Zone initiative. 

2. Resource 

a) Where the opportunity is deemed to be aligned to the University’s mission and priorities, the IP Commercialisation team will work with the inventor to evaluate the idea, identify options, consider costs and make recommendations.

The resources required (financial investment, technical support, access to instrumentation or facilities, management and commercialisation activities) for each opportunity to progress will be assessed. Where feasible, resources will be brokered/allocated in line with strategic priorities and available budgets, on a phased basis, with appropriate checks put in place to monitor progress.

The SMART Action Plan will capture project milestones, measures of success, deliverables, timelines and accountabilities. When the idea or technology is deemed to be sufficiently robust (and where relevant formal IP registered) the commercialisation strategy will be developed.

b) Where the opportunity is deemed to be of interest to the University but is not aligned to priority areas, the IP Commercialisation team will still follow a similar process as above, but with a lower priority. Such lower priority projects may attract investment and resource, proportionally to the scale and value to the University.

c) Where the idea is not of interest to the University the inventor will be ‘free’ to proceed with the idea in their own time, without resource support from the University. As appropriate the IP Commercialisation team will signpost the inventor to other forms of support where applicable.

The IP Commercialisation team will confirm in writing that the inventor has the endorsement of the University to proceed and where appropriate the IP will be assigned.

3. Approval* (to proceed)

This will be subject to sign-off by the University, based on the initial business case. It is at this stage that conditional approval to proceed with a commercialisation plan (e.g. external licence agreements or incorporation) will be given and delegated authorities set for key roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

(Approval* to proceed. This is the earliest stage when the University’s Senior Management will see the opportunity and be asked to decide formally whether to proceed (Sign-off). Conditional or ‘in-principle’ approval will give the IP Commercialisation Team the ‘green-light’ to proceed but to address certain agreed issues and conditions at a later stage).

Intellectual property commercialisation process