Commercialization Process

Maximizing the Impact of USC Research

The USC Stevens Center for Innovation works to commercialize promising technologies developed within the university by safeguarding ideas, securing intellectual property protection and connecting innovators to the people that develop products and bring them to market.

Disclose Here

How We Work

Our team finds a suitable commercial partner, negotiates a license for the technology, and assists the newly formed group in developing and marketing the product. Compensation is shared between all partners, the inventors, industry partners, and the university. While every project is different, the process generally follows an eight-step pattern:


  1. Disclosure:

    USC researchers disclose their discoveries and inventions through our confidential submission process.

  2. Preliminary review:

    We conduct a preliminary review to determine whether to file a patent application on the invention. This involves:

    • A review of the invention disclosure
    • An interview with the inventors
    • Research regarding the market, competitive technologies, and prior art
  3. Intellectual property protection:

    If the university decides to invest in patenting the invention, we will engage outside counsel to file a patent application. When appropriate, the university may utilize copyright, trade secret, or trademark rights to commercialize university inventions or works of authorship per USC’s Intellectual Property Policy.

  4. Business development:

    We start contacting industry leaders (companies, entrepreneurs, and investors) who may be suitable partners to get feedback on the technology, both through our contact list and through industry events, conferences, and online.

  5. Ongoing assessment:

    Because obtaining a patent is a long and costly process and can take years, we separate licensed and unlicensed technology. For licensed technology, the licensee assumes the costs of obtaining and maintaining the patent. For unlicensed technology, we will regularly assess each technology with the goal of determining whether to continue our investment based on evolving commercialization prospects.

  6. Licensing:

    Business development activities may result in one or more potential partners conducting an in-depth examination of the technology and market opportunity. If a prospect decides it wants to license a technology, it will present a plan for commercialization and negotiate business terms with USC Stevens. From there, USC Stevens prepares a formal agreement draft, negotiates, and ultimately executes the license.

  7. Commercial development:

    The path to commercial markets varies, depending on the nature of the invention, the market it addresses, and its stage of development. Under the terms of the license agreement, the licensee is required to commercialize the invention and provide regular progress reports to the university on its commercialization activities. The inventors may continue to be involved in development activities with the commercialization partner.

  8. License income:

    Royalties and other revenue received by USC under the license agreement are shared with USC inventors in accordance with the USC Intellectual Property Policy. In some circumstances, licensing income is shared with inventors, their departments, and their schools. See our Revenue Distribution FAQ here.