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Module 4: Intellectual Property and Commercialisation


This module has been developed to give researchers from all disciplines a comprehensive introduction to commercialisation – from identifying IP, to its protection, packaging and commercial development. Commercialisation can be a long and complex process. However, at the completion of this module you should have developed an understanding of the process, which will enable you to participate with your university's research commercialisation office or company to commercialise your research. Your university will work with you to identify research with commercial potential, protect the IP, and package it for commercialisation.

Universities can deliver tremendous economic and social value by commercialising the research knowledge developed by their researchers. Whether the knowledge is a research outcome or skills and expertise, it can be generated by researchers across all disciplines. Knowledge transfer can include a broad range of activities from research to teaching to undertaking community services. However, knowledge transfer may also involve the transfer of knowledge to the marketplace, which is referred to as commercialisation. This process involves the protection and packaging of the intellectual property (IP) inherent in the research knowledge into a 'product'. ('Product' is used loosely in this context to refer to a range of potential commercialisation outcomes, ranging from actual physical products such as a publication or a pharmaceutical therapeutic to a technology or consulting activities.)

The potential economic value of the intellectual property involved in commercialisation requires the IP to be protected. Depending on the type of IP, there are various ways to protect it from copyright to patenting. Protecting the IP allows it to be treated as any other asset meaning that it may be sold or licensed or traded.

An informed, passionate and committed researcher is essential to the successful outcome of any commercial venture. While the process will not be straightforward, the rewards for individual investigators can include direct financial gain, ongoing funding for their research program and, not least, the satisfaction of seeing their innovation applied beyond the research context.

This module comprises independent-study online learning material that needs to be completed prior to an end-of-module workshop. The total time commitment (including the workshop) is in the order of 8 to 12 hours.

This module comprises online learning material and a workshop.

You are expected to devote time to reading the online material and carrying out compulsory activities before attending the workshop. This module should take less than two hours to read and you may need to devote up to another half hour to carry out the compulsory activities.

The workshop is based on the assumption that you have completed the reading and carried out the compulsory activities.


This module was designed to provide university researchers with an introduction to commercialisation. An emphasis has been placed on ensuring the researcher gains a broad understanding and appreciation of the processes involved in identifying, protecting and packaging innovations for the marketplace. Such an understanding should provide a critical base for researchers wishing to participate in and appreciate the complex commercialisation process.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Define and differentiate the types of intellectual property
  • Describe the nature of intellectual property management
  • Outline the way to structure a research project to generate IP with commercial potential
  • Summarise the ways to protect intellectual property on a daily basis
  • Appreciate the issues relating to intellectual property ownership for employees and students
  • Comprehend the broad commercialisation process
  • Cite the pathways of commercialisation
  • Identify sources of funding for commercialisaton
  • Recognise specific roles researchers can play in the commercialisation process
  • Identify the points at which a financial return can be realised
  • Understand the profit sharing policy of your research institution

Content overview

The module comprises the following topics:

1. Intellectual Property (IP) in a university context

What is IP and how is it protected? In a research context, we look at identifying research with IP and evaluating its commercial potential. We conclude with the issues of IP ownership, the costs associated with IP protection and ways in which IP should be protected on a daily basis.

Topic 1 is divided into the following subtopics:

2. Commercialisation

The commercialisation process is reviewed in its entirety with a detailed look at key options, funding, exiting the process and the involvement of the researcher.

Topic 2 is divided into the following subtopics:

IP and commercialisation dictionary

There is a considerable amount of jargon used by IP and commercialisation professionals. To assist with understanding this jargon, a short Dictionary of commonly used terms has been assembled.

The Dictionary of terms can also be accessed via the module Organiser page.


Activities are included in the module to help you apply the knowledge in a real life context. These activities will culminate with you discussing these ideas in the workshop with a commercialisation professional and fellow researchers. As part of the workshop you will have the opportunity to discuss any issues you have about IP and commercialisation.


The content in this module was developed by The University of Queensland's (UQ) commercialisation company UniQuest Pty Limited. For more information, please visit the company's website.

Principal writer

Julia Renaud, Uniquest

With contributions by

Maree Magafas, University of New South Wales

Dr Dean Moss, Uniquest

Doug Bugden, Uniquest

Andrew Davis, Uniquest

Dr Kay Taylor, Uniquest

Dr Joanna Maldonado-Saldivia, Uniquest

Educational developers

Bill Potter, Monash University

Associate Professor Len Webster, Monash University

Web developer

Rob Andrew, Monash University
Jane Liang, Go8

Project management

Group of Eight Future Research Leaders Program

Accessing the module material

Now that you have read the module introduction you can access and navigate your way through the module content via the Module 4 Organiser link in the navigation bar at the top left of this page or in the bar below.

If you wish to print this page you can generate a pdf file via this printer icon [ ]. A pdf file for each topic in this module can be generated using the printer icon to the left of each topic title on the Organiser page.

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