UWM has a host of resources available to support UWM faculty and staff seeking collaborative opportunities with industry.
UWM Research Foundation, Inc. (UWMRF)
The UWM Research Foundation is your entry point for exploring corporate partnerships, intellectual property opportunities or technology transfer. Services to faculty include:
Ongoing training and development activities include seminars on intellectual property, corporate partnerships, and entrepreneurship.
Have an idea? Want to explore industry partnerships? Contact UWMRF to discuss your project and options for development.
Below is information frequently requested by UWM researchers seeking to protect, license, or patent inventions. For additional information, contact Brian Thompson, President, UWM Research Foundation.
Contracts and Intellectual Property Management
The UWMRF supports researchers in bringing their ideas to market through targeted services, including invention and intellectual property management, technology transfer, spin-out companies, and corporate research collaboration. Working closely with the UWM Office of Sponsored Programs, UWMRF can help to develop confidentiality agreements, material transfer agreements, and sponsored research agreements that make corporate research partnerships possible.
Equity Review Process
The Technology Transfer Manager in the Office of Sponsored Programs, in collaboration with UWMRF, will perform an equity review to determine the ownership of the invention and notify the inventor and forward the invention disclosure as required by University policies. Based on the disclosure, patenting or other means of protection will be explored.
The UWMRF Inventor Portal allows UWM faculty, staff and students to submit disclosures and track the status of their inventions. This secure, Web-based platform allows users to:
- Create, edit, and submit invention disclosures online.
- Check the status of submitted invention disclosures.
- Check the status of all patent applications on which they are listed as an inventor.
- Check and update marketing contacts associated with each of their inventions.
- Determine the technology manager who manages the invention.
To facilitate company-funded research, UWMRF‘s template contract gives project sponsors access to UWM technology while preserving our ability to use our research results for educational and research purposes.
Ownership of Inventions
UWM faculty, staff, and students must disclose inventions they develop in the course of their University duties, or on University premises, or with University supplies or equipment. Reporting is done through the UWM Inventor Portal. The UWMRF reviews the disclosure form to determine whether funds from a research grant or contract supported the work that led to the invention.
If an invention is the product of a federally funded research grant or contract, by law, UWM has an option to take ownership and commercialize the invention. The ownership decision is made by the UWM Research Foundation (UWMRF) based on its assessment of the invention’s commercial potential. If requested, the inventor must assign ownership to the UWMRF.
If an invention is produced with non-federal, private support, the research funding agreement may give the sponsor certain rights to that invention. If so, UWMRF may need to take title to the invention so that UWM can meet its contractual obligations to the sponsor. For example, if UWM signed a research agreement that requires it to give a sponsor an opportunity to license project-related inventions, UWM generally requires the inventor to assign title to the UWMRF so it can offer the sponsor a license on the University’s behalf.
For projects funded by the UWM Research Growth Initiative® (RGI) or Discovery and Innovation Grant (DIG) program, UWMRF owns any intellectual property that is conceived or reduced to practice as a result of the RGI award. If neither UWM nor the UWMRF takes ownership by operation of law or contract, the inventor(s) may choose to assign their invention to the UWMRF for possible patenting and commercialization, or may elect to file for a patent at their own expense.
It is important to disclose inventions before any public disclosure is made of the invention. Patent laws vary widely from country to country with respect to patentability after disclosure. In the U.S., patents may be applied for no later than one year after the invention is offered for sale or described in a “printed publication”, which includes manuscripts, abstracts distributed at conferences, oral presentations with printed viewgraphs or slides, or written notes disseminated during a presentation.
The date of publication in a journal or an abstract for a conference is typically the mailing date of the journal (not the submission date) or the abstract books, or when the article is in print and made available through the Internet. In most other countries patent rights are lost immediately upon any disclosure of the invention.
Reporting Inventions to Research Sponsors
UWMRF is required to report all inventions to sponsors, whether public or private, to ensure the specific terms and conditions of the research agreements are met. When the sponsor is a federal U.S. agency, federal law grants UWM the right to commercialize technology, subject to certain conditions.
If UWM is unable to arrange suitable commercial agreements with industry, or decides not to pursue developing the technology for commercialization by other means, rights revert to the government. The agency, in turn, may choose to make the invention public or otherwise dispose of ownership rights to the inventors.
When an invention is the result of corporate funds, UWM is obligated to report the invention to the corporate sponsor.
Requirements to Disclose
Inventors are required to disclose their discoveries or inventions arising from research conducted with UWM resources or using UWM facilities. Disclosures are made online through the UWM Inventor Portal. Inventors should take special care to name all others who have made a creative contribution to the inventive concept, including inventors at other institutions or sponsoring organizations. Individuals who carried out work at the direction of those creating the concept ordinarily would not be designated as inventors. The naming of inventors on a patent, however, is a legal determination made with the aid of patent counsel. If in doubt, include all relevant names.
The owner of a patent or copyright does not need to make copies or products directly for sale; instead, a company can be “licensed” to make the product or to use it. For each product or each use, the owner negotiates in advance with the manufacturing or distributing company for a fee to be paid, known as a “royalty”.
The royalty is specified in the license agreement and is a percentage of sales or other distribution of the product or process. It may be a small or large percentage of the product’s total cost, depending on factors such as the relative value of the intellectual property, size of the market, and relation of the production cost to the sale cost.
UWM Industry Collaboration Partners
UWM has a number of internal partners, (including centers, institutes, colleges, schools, and departments) available to support industry collaboration opportunities.
Centers and Institutes
UWM is home to more than 70 scholarly centers, institutes, and laboratories. As one of only two doctoral-degree granting public universities within the Wisconsin, UWM‘s high research activity attracts both emerging and established scientists, entrepreneurs, researchers, and students.
Schools, Colleges, and Departments
UWM‘s 14 schools and colleges offer many collaboration and research opportunities. Individual departments within each school and college also provide support to a number industry collaborations; details are available at each link below. If you are uncertain as to whom to contact, it may be best to start with the Associate Dean for Research in each school or college.
- School of Architecture and Urban Planning
- Peck School of the Arts
- Lubar School of Business
- School of Continuing Education
- School of Education
- College of Engineering & Applied Science
- School of Freshwater Sciences
- Graduate School
- College of Health Sciences
- School of Information Studies
- College of Letters & Science
- College of Nursing
- Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health
- Helen Bader School of Social Welfare
Other Affiliated Institutions
UWM partners with a number of other local institutions to support technology commercialization within the region.
Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI)
UWM is part of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI), a regional biomedical collaboration involving clinical and translational science between UWM, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the Blood Center of Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital, and Froedtert Hospital. The CTSI point-of-contact for UWM is Dr. Mark Harris.
The CTSI collaboration advocates, facilitates, and fosters the continuum of research from bench to bedside to community practice. This effort capitalizes on the strong foundation of basic science and community outreach programs within the academic institutions of southeastern Wisconsin.
Mid-West Energy Research Consortium
UWM is a member of the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC), one of America’s largest clusters of energy, power and control companies, educational and research institutions, and other key industry stakeholders. M-WERC acts as a catalyst for the growth of these companies and industries, located in the greater Midwest region, through technology, innovation, advanced research, market development, information sharing, workforce development, and strategic collaboration.
Water Equipment and Policy I/UCRC Research Center
Located at UWM, the Water Equipment and Policy (WEP) is a research center that operates under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. It is a collaborative organization of member universities and businesses pursuing pre-competitive research that will benefit the water industry.
WEP serves as a catalyst for synergizing the region’s assets to create the next generation of products and processes and advance the water industry. The center provides its industry members with exclusive access to world renowned university scientists and their state-of-the-art laboratories. Faculty researchers work with industry members and teams of graduate students and post-docs to advance precompetitive research important to the members.