Brown Technology Innovations

Strategic Plan

With its responsibilities to manage the university’s patent portfolio, the Brown University technology transfer office, called Brown Technology Innovations is first and foremost focused on commercialization.

By virtue of that role, we serve two customers: the faculty members who provide invention disclosures for patenting and commercialization; and the investors, entrepreneurs and companies that develop university technology. The faculty customer engages with our office concerning technology – specifically the evaluation of invention disclosures, the technology’s patenting and its licensing. The technology investor customer works with our office because they wish to obtain or support technology. Any other mission or initiative by our office that is not focused on technology is extraneous. For Brown Technology Innovations, our focus is on Technology First.

View a PDF of the Strategic Plan

Mission and Branding

Along these lines, the office’s mission can be captured in this statement, “Putting Brown University’s Technology First to drive commercial outcomes that benefit the University and society.” This mission is best supported by a rebranding of the office to Brown Technology Innovations which puts the focus around the university’s technology assets.

Core Values

Brown Technology Innovations will position ourselves as the trusted advisor to faculty inventors and technology investors around technology commercialization. The team should conduct itself with an eye towards promptness, accountability and transparency in its dealings. Acting in this manner will drive deals forward, lessen the pain of “saying no,” and encourage repeat business (more invention disclosures) by faculty customers. Driven by our core values, Tech Innovations should be seen by technology investors as the main gateway to access all things technology-related at the university. By putting technology first, the office can position itself as the single point of contact for technology commercialization matters at Brown.

Serving the Faculty Customer

In order to service the faculty customer, Tech Innovations provides these services:

  • Advising on commercialization, new ventures and industry collaboration
  • Soliciting and evaluating Invention Disclosures
  • Patenting commercially attractive inventions
  • Sourcing, negotiating, executing and enforcing technology agreements (licenses and research arrangements)
  • Interpreting and implementing the Brown University IP Policy.

Our core business must be centered around technology. Getting pulled away from that core mission will decrease our ability to be a prompt, accountable and transparent advisor to our inventors.

Serving the Technology Buyer Customer

Customers of Tech Innovations will work with our office in order to access university technology. To this group of technology buyers, Brown Innovations offers these services:

  • Material Transfer Agreements with industry and academia
  • Confidentiality Agreements to learn about Brown technology
  • Sponsored research agreements (preferably option/SRAs) around Brown technology.
  • Option agreements to license Brown technology
  • Exclusive and non-exclusive license agreements around Brown technology.

A focus on this customer base requires Brown Innovations to be outwardly facing. By centering our activities around technology, Innovations can differentiate itself from other university offices as the sole point of contact for technology related matters.

Executing Our Strategy


We will be able to capture and quantify specific outcomes from a technology specific approach:

  • # of invention disclosures
  • # of patents
  • # of confidentiality agreements (a measure of marketing engagement)
  • # of term sheets (to measure potential deals)
  • # of agreement drafts
  • # of deals (including options, licenses and research agreements around Brown technology).
  • Amounts of option and license fees, sponsored research support
  • Amounts of royalties

Taking Ownership of Our Assets, Obligations and Opportunities

Implementation of robust internal record keeping via a patent, agreement and CRM database will be necessary to record, track and analyze these metrics. We will conduct a technology inventory of all of our unlicensed patents to understand the university’s asset portfolio. Complete utilization of the database by the entire staff will ensure that all office activities are captured in an accountable, transparent manner. A robust database can be shared with other university groups, increasing internal collaboration and streamlining reporting to leadership. Employee goal setting and achievement can be set and measured in order to improve performance.

Tech Innovations will be responsible stewards of the university IP budget by patenting technologies that are of scientific interest, are patentable and are attractive to the technology investor. We will scour our patent portfolio and engage our inventors to identify infringement opportunities that can drive licensing or patent enforcement opportunities (in that order). Finally, we will negotiate and enforce our agreements to ensure robust patent cost reimbursement so that Brown patent dollars are being utilized to expand and protect innovation of Brown technology, while encouraging licensed technology to be supported by company licensees.

Putting Technology First

Developing a Technology First mentality requires the office staff to immerse itself in technology and inventions so that it can understand the areas of peak technology interest to drive an invention evaluation and patent program, and speak enough about an asset to compel a buyer to want to learn more. We will hone in on specific technology areas and centers of interest (be it at the initiative, center, institute or school level) at Brown that have commercial potential. This focus has the added benefit of maximizing valuable office and faculty time. The office will utilize scientific rankings (citation score, H-index, i10 values) and other indicators, where appropriate, to further inform our invention strategy. We will utilize the alliance management, idea generation and appreciative inquiry capabilities honed in Brown’s industrial partnerships to further tie in technology investor’s interests with faculty inventor assets.

Marketing and Networking

Aggressive marketing of Brown’s assets to technology buyers is another key service to be provided by the office. This approach brings the “voice of the customer” (the technology buyer) to chime in on the attractiveness of Brown’s technologies and can provide suggestions for further technology development by the inventor. We will target high impact venues and key conferences for interacting with our technology buyer customer. The office’s interactions with marketing leads will be based around Brown technology, and highlight the specifics of the science, the scientific rigor and leadership of our faculty and seek focused inquiries on what the needs of our customers are. In this manner, we can differentiate ourselves from other university TTOs. Brown Technology Innovations will position itself as the main gateway for investors, companies and entrepreneurs interested in accessing university technology.

An important aspect of this approach is to develop a robust advisor and entrepreneur network. Doing so will allow the office to achieve three objectives – provide guidance on our strategic plans, obtain feedback on Brown technologies and attract entrepreneurs to form startups around Brown technology. Finally, the office will utilize the resources in our area and ecosystem for the benefit of our faculty inventors. This includes facilities like the CIC, programs like RI Hub and research development initiatives such as the Carney Institute and Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact program.

Deal Execution

Brown Innovations will update and standardize its agreement templates to provide uniform, reproducible vehicles for agreement and partnership. Utilizing our patent, agreement and CRM database, the office will maintain its federal funding obligations to report on product development. Brown will be a good partner to our research partners and licensees by having robust agreement and license compliance processes to ensure that all parties to a deal are living up to their obligations.

We will focus on driving Brown technology to the market by two vehicles: patent licenses and industry sponsored collaborations. Patent licenses will be given primary focus in that they achieve the Innovations’ mission by positioning technology for product development and consumer impact; reduce our inventory of unlicensed patent applications and set up potential recurring revenue opportunities through royalties. Startup companies created around patent licenses are particularly valuable when they achieve the “grand slam” of academic technology commercialization: i) are a faculty startup; ii) utilize Brown technology; iii) are venture backed and iv) are based in Rhode Island. Sponsored research agreements are useful when they drive commercialization of existing IP (through option/SRA arrangements) and/or engage many schools, institutes, and departments within Brown.


Brown Technology Innovations focuses on putting the university’s Technology First. We serve two customers: the technology creators among our faculty and staff, and the technology developers within industry and investors. By focusing on Brown’s technology, we seek to be industry and investor’s partner of choice to drive commercial outcomes that benefit society.