Successful IP management has allowed a university to retain ownership of patents covering a new technology it developed, while the business partner was granted an exclusive licence over the patents.
The University of Adelaide recognises the benefits and rewards that can come from collaboration with businesses. Professors Angus Simpson and Martin Lambert led a team that successfully developed and commercialised a new technology in the field of pipeline condition assessment. This technology provides a non-invasive method of assessing the condition of pipelines so that the internal condition of the pipe wall, blockages, leaks and other damage can be quickly and easily detected.
Finding the right industry partner to collaborate with is not always easy and the University’s experience in commercialising this technology was a good example of this. Early collaboration partnerships were not successful for a variety of reasons, but failed negotiations around intellectual property were a key contributing factor.
The University of Adelaide is now partnering with Detection Services Pty Ltd, an Australian company with operations in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Islands. Professor Simpson describes this partnership as very successful. The University has retained ownership of the relevant patents and Detection Services has an exclusive licence over the patents worldwide, with a current focus on Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Professor Simpson notes that collaboration between an experienced industry partner and a university can be of great benefit in commercialising new technology because it allows both parties to focus on their relevant areas of expertise. In this case, commercial activities such as marketing, sales and business planning are carried out by Detection Services, while the University can focus on research and use its networks to further develop the technology. It has also provided career opportunities for students from the University, with several research and recent graduate students now employed full‑time by Detection Services.