Case studies

Maximising returns by streamlining the IP portfolio

Client: Aston University

Project dates: November 2011 – April 2015

Summary

Oxentia has built a strong partnership with Aston University over the past four years, providing technology transfer support and streamlining its intellectual property (IP) portfolio so that resources can be focused on the most promising technologies in both the life and physical sciences.

Oxentia reviewed the university’s portfolio, evaluating each technology against defined criteria so that those demonstrating the greatest commercial potential could be prioritised. The result is a leaner and healthier portfolio that has produced valuable commercial opportunities, such as Asto-optics.

What Oxentia provided

Oxentia worked under a technology transfer partnership agreement, signed with Aston University Business Partnership Unit (BPU) in 2011, complementing their team to provide expert support in the evaluation of projects and invention disclosures, and in commercialising technologies.

On a day-to-day basis, Oxentia provided BPU staff with essential technology transfer support in two primary areas: technology evaluation, including market intelligence, dialogue with Aston University academics and funding applications; and the management of the existing IP portfolio.

An essential part of the Oxentia contribution was its re-evaluation of the Aston University patent portfolio, enabling the university to decide where its resources should be focused. The review analysed innovations according to performance, the technology readiness level and the potential market size. Oxentia then made recommendations on a case-by-case basis, categorising each according to whether it should be actively promoted, kept under review or abandoned.

This systematic approach increased the portfolio’s likelihood of generating income by focusing on the most promising projects, and reduced unnecessary disbursement of the patent budget. Asto-optics is an example of success in converting a technical innovation from the Aston portfolio into a commercial opportunity.

Aston spin-out company: Asto-optics

The science research community uses light to perform a range of important functions, and erbium-doped fibre amplifiers (EDFAs) are widely used to amplify optical signals. The highly acclaimed Photonics Research Group at Aston recognised an opportunity to market to other research groups rack-mounted EDFA units it created for its own use.

The units, known as “pizza boxes” because of their resemblance, combine an EDFA with a power supply, connectors and control software, giving them “plug-and-play” capability. The option also exists to develop this off-the-shelf product over time, as Aston’s researchers create new IP in this space and release new amplifier components both for research application and use in industry.

Oxentia’s technology transfer professionals supported the Aston research team by developing the robust business plan necessary to secure funding for a spin-out of Asto-optics.

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