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The Tech Transfer process

Our task is to add energy to the process from the very first moment so that ideas are kept alive and inventors receive the support they need. We are very careful not to drain energy from you as a researcher and then disappear. We will help and assist you every step of the way. 

What do we mean by a new idea?
An idea can be a new product, a new process or a new service. It may also be a new application of a formerly recognized technology. If you are the first to think up a possible technical solution that is industrially applicable, you may even have an invention that can be patented

Who can bring us ideas?
All employees and students at NTNU, HiST and Central Norway Regional Health Authority.
On behalf of NTNU, HiST and Central Norway Regional Health Authority, TTO administers the ownership of employee inventions (pursuant to the Act respecting the right to employees' inventions). This entails that employees must report inventions to us.

Students have ownership of their ideas, and are therefore under no obligation to contact us. However, we are happy to contribute with our resources. Examples of ideas from students where TTO has contributed.

How do you submit an idea?
Click here to submit an idea.
You can send us e-mail, give us a call, or just ring our doorbell during business hours on
the third floor of chemistry building 1 at Gløshaugen.


When do you submit your idea?

When you have a new idea, patentable or not, it makes good sense to contact us as early as possible. A lot of people believe that the idea must be fully developed before approaching TTO, but then it may be too late. Come as soon as possible, so we can help consider the market and patenting.
Unfortunately, some people think they need a proven concept or a market-ready product before they can come to us. You should come here with your idea when your mind is full of excitement and before you start considering all the obstacles.

A new idea from you

When you bring us an idea, we will identify the resources at TTO who have the best grasp of your field of technology. We are concerned with adapting to your needs and idea.

Of course you will have to spend time educating us about the idea and the technology behind it. We need to get to the core of it, because only then can we evaluate it properly, Needless to say, these discussions take place in strict confidence and the inventors run absolutely no risk by talking to TTO.


Evaluating the idea

When we have sufficient understanding of your idea, we will assess the commercial opportunities.
Which problem or requirement does your idea satisfy? Is there a market, and is it perhaps global? What about patenting opportunities? What will funding requirements be? And where will we find the required funds? Do you as an inventor have the time?

We don’t exclusively pursue ideas that have the greatest potential profits or that have market opportunities in the hundreds of millions range. Our goal is to realize the results of research through commercialization – to benefit society in the shape of products and services

If we come to the conclusion that your idea has commercial potential, we will combine our resources with yours to realize the idea. If your idea gets the thumbs up in the initial screening, TTO will allocate resources and ramp up the pace.

Developing your idea

Obviously, the first thing we need to cooperate on is coming up with a good plan: Do we submit a patent application? How will we demonstrate how your idea works in practice? This can typically be achieved by developing a prototype. This is often termed Proof of Concept, and may take anything from six months to several years to complete. How do we find the funds for this? Should we establish a new company, or should we license your idea to an existing industrial player?

The end game of all our projects is to close a deal, i.e. to convince an external partner to adopt the technology. That is when we have to choose the most appropriate strategy: we either find a company willing to enter into a license agreement, or we establish a new company ourselves to commercialize the idea. Our focus is always on maximizing the impact of research, so that the results benefit as many people as possible. Of course, we do have to focus on financial aspects as well, but we never simply sell to the highest bidder unless we can be sure of the buyer’s genuine intent to bring the technology to market. Unlike consultants, we accept responsibility and jump on board with the researcher. We take on roles and obligations that academics don’t have time or the inclination for. And we do this without reducing their control of the project.


How do you protect your idea?

Intellectual property rights (IPR) is a collective term for ways of protecting ideas. This may e.g. be done through brand protection, design protection or patents. If one has a patentable invention, a granted patent may act as a necessary competitive advantage in the market.

The first patent system was established in the U.S.A in 1790. The purpose was the same as today; to stimulate innovation. The patent system ensures that unique inventions are granted a monopoly for a limited duration, and that by way of this competitive advantage are able to attract the required funding from investors, which the development of the idea is completely dependent upon.
It is important to understand and appreciate that the patent system has been created with the sole objective to encourage and facilitate innovation. Patent protection shall provide the sufficient competitive advantage to attract the resources needed for product development.

In order to arrive at the best patenting strategy, we often involve professional international patent agencies that specialise in the field.

We need a few weeks to adequately prepare a satisfactory patent application in cooperation with you and the patent agency.

Many researchers believe that patent applications cannot be combined with publishing their findings, but that is a misunderstanding. Both objectives can be achieved, provided the patent application is submitted before the results are published. This is precisely why we are so keen to avoid delays in the academic publishing by encouraging scientists to bring their inventions to us as early as possible. It often takes time to produce a good patent application. To come here the day before you publish the article is pushing it a little. In cases where there is only a short time before research is to be presented at a conference, we will consider the option of a fast and simplified patent application.


Financing your project

Funding is required to develop your idea. Experience shows that developing a prototype or other form of Proof of Concept may cost anything from NOK 100,000 to more than 5 million. TTO has access to several sources of funds for this purpose: 

NTNU Discovery 
NTNU Discovery is a funding scheme aimed at potentially commercially viable research from NTNU. The scheme is funded jointly by NTNU, Sør-Trøndelag County, North Trøndelag County and Sparebank1 SMN. NTNU Discovery allocates project funds upon application of up to 1 million. An external group (allocation committee / jury) consisting of six experienced, professional, independent operators assess and decide the allocation of grant request. Read more about the scheme here. (Norwegian)

Projects in early stages often have a higher risk than professional investors can accept.
FORNY is the Research Council's program aimed to bring the results of publicly funded research institutions to the marketplace. FORNY supports verification activities related to clarification of possible applications and market potential, testing the concept, technology or prototype, demonstration, development of business model, protection of rights, or establishing contact with customers and users. Read more about the scheme here. (Norwegian)

Innovasjon Norge 
Innovation Norway has a number of measures aimed primarily at companies alone or with companies cooperating with approved research institutions. "Research and development contracts" (IFU/OFU), "Skattefunn" or "Establishment Grant" is particularly appropriate in accordance with our own company formations. Read more about the scheme here. (Norwegian)

Other pre-seed funds
As an active player in the innovation industry TTO keep up to date, is well acquainted with and seek funding in terms of technology verification from other pre-seed funds, such as Medtech Trondheim, Novo Seed etc. (Norwegian)

Various idea competitions 
Both in terms of developing ideas, energy input and access to development funds, projects from the TTO are often represented by different idea competitions such as Start Støtte, Venture Cup, DnB's innovasjonspris, etc. (Norwegian)

We take responsibility for writing applications and follow-up of available funds that may suit your idea. Up to the present, TTO has obtained almost NOK 100 million for this type of project financing. Most of these funds have been spent on buying your time in connection with developing ideas. 


Establishing companies (spin-offs)

If we choose to establish a new company, we will do so in cooperation with you. You don’t necessarily have to be the company’s general manager, but your role will nevertheless be a central one, e.g. with a position on the board. We will find a satisfactory solution.

So far we have established more than 70 new companies. Of course none of these are alike, but TTO’s tasks often comprise:

  • Generating the required documents to set up the new company
  • Composing the company’s board and management
  • Come up with the required initial funds
  • Protecting the company’s name, logo, domain name, etc.
  • Developing a comprehensive business plan
  • Developing your idea in the new company
  • Find the right investors
  • Preparing shareholder agreements and cooperation agreements with e.g. NTNU
  • Preparing any option schemes for key personnel

Examples of companies we have established.


Licensing out your idea

Licensing is the practice of leasing a legally protected property (such as patents and other IP) to another party in conjunction with a product or service. It is based on a contractual agreement between the owner of the property known as the licensor; and a licensee – normally a manufacturer or retailer. The license agreements grant the licensee permission to use the IP subject to specific terms and conditions, which may include the purpose of use, a defined territory and a defined time period. In exchange for this usage, the licensor receives financial remuneration - normally in the form of a guaranteed fee and/or royalty on a percentage of sales.

TTO will be a professional negotiator and is able to be tough enough in the discussions with the relevant company. We make the extra effort and are always on the side of the researcher.


Distribution of income

Our experience is that the driving force to most researchers is to be recognized by their peers and for their research to have an impact in some way, shape, or form. That said it is, of course, both possible and desirable to make money from technology transfer, and net profits from successful projects are shared equally among the inventors personally, the research group involved, and TTO. Since most universities worldwide employ a similar practice, it is generally considered fair and reasonable.