Information for NAU Researchers

Technology Transfer at Northern Arizona University

Technology transfer is the term used to describe the transfer, to third parties, of rights to use and commercialize new discoveries and innovations resulting from university research, scholarship, and service. At NAU, the process of technology transfer includes the following general activities:

  1. Educating faculty, staff, and students on technology transfer as an effective mechanism for disseminating the results of their work and on its personal and professional benefits.
  2. Identification and development of research activity that could generate discoveries having commercial potential.
  3. Protection of these research outcomes nationally and internationally.
  4. Marketing technologies and the research labs that generated them (promoting the NAU research enterprise).
  5. Licensing patent rights to third parties for commercial development and sale.
  6. Management of licenses for the life of the rights.
  7. Administration of various types of agreements that facilitate technology transfer (such as Non-Disclosure Agreements, Material Transfer Agreements, and Inter-Institutional Agreements). 

Intellectual property created by NAU faculty, staff, and students are assets of the university and the State of Arizona that represent the fruits of valuable investments and research efforts. As a public institution, NAU has an obligation and responsibility to manage these assets in the best interest of the State and for the benefit of all Arizonans. 

Technology transfer directly benefits NAU faculty and students, and supports the mission of the university research enterprise “to create and disseminate new knowledge”:

  • Commercialization of research outcomes is an effective mechanism through which the university disseminates research results (by moving goods and services developed at the university into the marketplace).   
  • Through the process of technology transfer, new companies can be formed, and these companies create jobs.
  • Relationships built with potential licensees can lead to industry-sponsored research.
  • Revenues received from the commercialization of IP developed by researchers are shared with those researchers, and funds that the university retains go back into the research enterprise to support other research and development.
  • Faculty, staff, and students benefit by learning about patent law, the process of commercialization, and economic development through their involvement in the technology transfer process.
  • Technology transfer activities often result in research partnerships where industry scientists work collaborative with university faculty. These partnerships can result in internships and/or jobs for students. 

NAU Innovations

The primary activities that comprise technology transfer are conducted by a team of individuals, beginning with NAU researchers who conceive and develop the ideas and ending with the licensees who manufacture and/or sell the licensed intellectual property. All along the way, the process is catalyzed, driven and managed by NAU Innovations. NAU Innovations (NAUI) is the branding of NAU’s technology development and commercialization program. It is comprised of the efforts of individuals in the Office of the Vice President for Research as well as outside consultants and law firms.  In addition, under a Master Agreement with the University, NAU Ventures, LLC (a company organized under the NAU Foundation) provides business development services associated with licensing Board-owned technologies to entrepreneurs and start-up companies.