Imperial has updated its reward scheme for entrepreneurial staff.
Imperial's reward scheme for inventors has been updated to better incentivise serial inventors and change how commercial revenues are allocated in some unusual cases.
Commercialisation, the process of turning research into patents and commercial opportunities, has been overseen by Imperial’s Enterprise Division since March 2019, when the College brought its commercialisation operation in-house. Imperial offers staff who develop new technologies part-ownership of resulting startup companies and a share of the revenue generated when the technologies are licensed out to third parties.
While the update to this scheme will not make a material difference to most Imperial inventors, it includes some noteworthy changes:
- Serial inventors are now better incentivised for technologies that are licensed out to other organisations. Previously, staff received 100% of the net licensing revenue their inventions generated (after fees and costs) up to £50,000, and 80% of the net revenue above this threshold. The threshold is now applied to the invention rather than the staff member, meaning that an inventor (or group of co-inventors) with multiple technologies that each generate under £50,000 in net licensing revenue will always receive 100% of this revenue.
- There is now more clarity on what happens when licensing income reaches the millions. Previously, Imperial reserved the right to adjust the share awarded to inventors of net licensing revenue above £1 million. Under the updated scheme, inventors will receive 60% of the net licensing revenue each of their inventions generates above £1 million.
- The well-received Founders Choice pilot scheme, which allows startup founders to choose between greater support from the Enterprise Division and lower equity, or reduced support and greater equity - a popular choice for experienced entrepreneurs - has now been formally adopted by the College.
Other policy changes will help Imperial to maximise the impact of its intellectual property through the patenting and licensing activities carried out by Imperial College Innovations Ltd (ICIL), a wholly owned subsidiary launched in 2019 and run by the Enterprise Division. To operate successfully, ICIL needs to be financially sustainable. Therefore:
- ICIL’s fee will no longer be reduced when commercialisation is carried out by a third party such as another university. ICIL will now retain its standard 50% fee for all licences to reflect the cost of negotiating with third parties. This means that Imperial inventors will in turn be rewarded less in these rare and exceptional cases.
- ICIL will now retain 80% of the revenue from sale of Imperial’s equity in startups instead of 50% as it did previously. The remainder, which was previously allocated to the College and its faculties, will now be given directly to Imperial’s departments, giving them a greater share of the revenue their inventions have generated.
Academics and research staff interested in increasing the impact of their research through commercialisation should contact the Enterprise Division. The Enterprise team warmly invite queries from staff who are not yet sure of the commercial potential of their research or who lack experience of commercialisation. The team can help them identify opportunities and pathways for commercialisation and offers training and support for entrepreneurship.
Staff, students, businesses and investors who wish to learn more about the programmes and services Imperial offers to turn ideas into world-changing technologies and startups can find out more on the Enterprise Division website and discover key metrics and case studies in the newest Review of Enterprising Activity.
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