SMU Research

Research Technology Management


Under SMU Policy 10.16, the Office of Research (OR) is the University office charged with management of SMU’s Intellectual Property (IP). OR collaborates with General Counsel at SMU and retains outside counsel to assess, protect, and commercialize Intellectual Property.

Technology Transfer is a transfer of knowledge that transfers scientific findings from one organization to another for the purpose of further development and commercialization. This process typically includes:

  • Identifying new technologies.
  • Protecting technologies through Patents and Copyrights.
  • Forming development and commercialization strategies such as marketing and licensing to existing private sector companies or creating new startup companies based on the technology.

OR’s mission is to encourage innovation, enhance Research, and facilitate economic development through the transfer of Intellectual Property (IP).

Assessment Process

Before publicly disclosing your invention, sending it out to an external (unless under a NDA), or submitting a manuscript for review and publication, faculty, staff, and students who create a patentable IP should submit your Online Invention Disclosure Form at The invention disclosure is a written description of your invention.

Once your invention disclosure is submitted, a review of the invention by the Director of Contracts and Technology Management is performed to check for compliance, check for any related agreements or Awards related to the technology and all invention disclosures are sent to a third party consultant for the market assessment.

Upon receipt of the market assessment, the OR team will review and evaluate if SMU should move forward with the protection of the technology, request inventor conduct additional Research, or release the rights to the technology back to the inventors. If the technology was developed with the use of federal funds, before OR can release the rights to the inventors, OR will first need to receive approval from the federal Funding agency to release the rights to the inventor.

As an alternative to approving the assignment, the Government may choose to retain rights if it is the opinion of the awarding agency that this is in the public's best interest.

OR Manages IP through:

  • Assessment
  • Patent Filing
  • Negotiation of licenses for commercial use
  • Other agreements

Protection and Transfer of Intellectual Property

If the concept, data, or technology is deemed commercially viable and of interest to the University, the University will file a Patent application.

Patent filing: OR works closely with the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA). After assessment of the technology, if the decision is to move forward with the protection of the technology, OR will contact the Office of Legal Affairs of the decision to move forward. The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) will retain outside counsel for the prosecution of the Patent application. The inventor will work with the outside counsel in drafting the Patent application. Once a Patent application is filed, it can take 3-5 years before the issuance of a Patent is granted. Once a Patent is issued, it is generally enforceable for 20 years from the initial filing date of the Patent application.

Who is An Inventor?

Is an individual who has made a contribution to the conception of the ideas in the Patent claims of a Patent application.

What is a Patent?

A Patent gives the holder the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offer to sell, and importing the Patent invention. It provides the right to exclude others from practicing the invention.

Creation of an Invention with an External Party

If your invention is a result of a Sponsored Research Agreement or other types of agreements, the Director for Contracts and Technology Management will review the agreement to determine ownership and other rights associated with the agreement to determine the appropriate next steps.

SBIR / STTR Contracts

Overview of SBIR / STTR Programs

Various federal agencies award Funding to small businesses (SBC) to perform Research and development with the goal to commercialize the technology developed from the Research projects. This Funding occurs via two different award mechanisms. They are the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund. The SBC may be required collaboration with SMU to participant in these programs.

SMU Guidelines for submitting SBIR/STTR Proposals

The SMU employee may not be the submitting/authorized official for the SBIR or STTR Proposal for the SBC. The Principal Investigator (PI) / Project Director (PD) for the SBC and the PI / PD for the subcontract to SMU must be different individuals. The SMU employee cannot work at both the company and the University on Research related to SBIR or STTR projects unless approved by the Associate Provost for Research.

An SMU employee who has an ownership interest or his/her Immediate Family Member in an SBC, or has Significant Financial Interest related to Intellectual Property being studied, may not conduct or supervise Research activities in his/her SMU laboratory unless approved by the Associate Provost for Research.

An SMU employee paid directly from an SBC, with whom they have an ownership interest, may not conduct Research for that entity in their SMU laboratories, unless approved by the Associate Provost for Research.

All work must be conducted with accordance with all SMU Policies.

The PI / PD for SMU’s portion of the project must submit all Proposal documentation to Sponsored Projects at least 14 days prior to the agency due date. Contact your assigned Grant Management Specialist (GMS).

Use of SMU Laboratories and Facilities

To utilize SMU resources (i.e., Equipment, space, employee services) to complete the SBC’s portion of the work on an SBIR/STTR project, approval from the Associate Provost for Research, Associate Vice President of Business and Finance, and Office of Legal Affairs is required. Permission will only be granted with appropriate agreements between SMU and the SBC outlining terms of use and schedule of payments.

For additional information regarding the SBIR/STTR program, please email the Director of Contracts and Technology Management at

Regardless of the type of Contract, unless the Office of Legal Affairs has reviewed and approved the Contract, the Contract Team in OR should review the Contract.

Which Federal Agencies Sponsor SBIR / STTR Awards?

For Additional program information, please click on the links below.

About STTR

What Are SBIR and STTR Programs?