This is a follow-up to How good are entrepreneurial opportunities for faculty members?. Say, a few researchers, professors and their students, at a university would like to start a company to exploit and commercialize their research.

Who owns the copyright/patent of their research? Will the university claim ownership of the startup company? What is the general procedure?


This will heavily depend on the specific country you are talking about. We have a so-called Innovation Lab that aims at encouraging "entrepreneurship and innovation by identifying, supporting and providing guidance for potential high-tech startups and spin-off companies originating at TU/e." Specifically, they guide researchers along the entire process: from checking whether the idea can be patented to actually establishing a startup / spin-off company.

With respect to copyright: lion's share of our research is being published so there can be no problems for companies to use the ideas presented in scientific papers. Using unpublished results might be more tricky but I can imagine that the university will agree to formally keep copyright and allow the company to benefit from it under some restricted conditions.

  • What about ownership of the company?
    – siamii
    May 29 '12 at 8:43

The university cannot claim ownership of the company as such, however, they can claim ownership of some intellectual property without which the company is worthless.

The only way how it could gain ownership of company shares is if you make a copyright/patent licencing deal which would include those shares as part of the compensation.

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