Case studies

Realising the value of world-class research at Cranfield University

Client: Cranfield University

Project dates: March 2012 – ongoing


Oxentia (IE) has been working collaboratively with Cranfield University since 2012, providing comprehensive technology transfer support to maximise commercial opportunities from Cranfield’s world-class research.

The project’s success in building the Cranfield invention pipeline across its core themes – aerospace, agri-food, defence, energy, environment, manufacturing and transport – has resulted in a new agreement with a widened remit. IE will now be providing a more strategic, extensive and embedded service to the university, with the prospect of further commercialisation benefits.

What IE provides

Cranfield is the leading UK postgraduate specialist university for research and teaching in science, engineering, technology and management.

IE works closely with Cranfield’s researchers to encourage the disclosure of new technologies and know-how, providing essential support in the form of advice on the patentability and commercial viability of inventions. IE does this by applying a structured approach, building understanding of market opportunities, developing the breadth and strength of the intellectual property (IP), and, above all, assessing the potential value of the innovations, for the researchers and the economy.

IE then works with the researchers to commercialise the IP, usually either through spinning-out or licensing the innovation. IE handles all the necessary groundwork for spin-outs – preparing business plans, including market and economic impact, and risk profiles. For licenses, IE prepares exploitation plans, seeks out potential licensees and manages the process through negotiation and agreement. IE also supports Cranfield in developing robust proposals for translational funding, to support the conversion of research proposals into commercially attractive opportunities.

IE’s relationship with Cranfield has developed strongly since 2012, with IE initially working with Cranfield on an ad hoc basis, shifting gradually to the current situation where IE are embedded within the Cranfield Research and Innovation team, based on site and at desks within the specific technical themes. In this way, IE is raising awareness of IP exploitation among the researchers. IEs Cranfield team includes expertise from energy to environment, clean tech to defence, not to mention expertise in commercialisation strategy and policy development.

The results of the partnership have been significant, creating a reinvigorated technology transfer offer across Cranfield’s themes and a marked uplift in the number of live projects in the invention pipeline. These include new patents filed, ongoing licence negotiations and successful translational funding bids.

In 2014, IE was engaged by Cranfield to assess the feasibility of creating a new digital incubator. This discrete project saw IE complete an initial phase of stakeholder engagement and analysis, demonstrating strong interest among staff, students and academics, and identifying a number of potential strategic benefits from such an incubator.

(Sarah Macnaughton; Justin French-Brookes April, 2015)

Categorised: Case studies

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