Carnegie Mellon University

The CTTEC Process

CTTEC supports technology transfer by enabling all the phases required to successfully license university research to the business community. Our expert team has over 50 total years of experience licensing and commercializing technologies. With over 350 licences, options and other agreements and 50 spin outs completed successfully over the past 5 years, we are the trusted partner for the Carnegie Mellon community in assessing technology, mitigating risks and developing best business scenarios for value creation.


The disclosure phase begins when the inventor(s) submit the initial invention disclosure. To start the invention disclosure process, you can download the Invention Disclosure form or Open Source/App/Software Invention Disclosure form, complete it, and email it to CTTEC at A CTTEC officer will connect and work with you through the licensing process.

The earlier this process begins, the better, to avoid losing patentable ideas. Ideally, submitting a disclosure prior to publication is recommended.

If an invention is licensed to a company, Carnegie Mellon shares 50 percent of the net proceeds from the licensed technology with the inventor(s) per CMU's IP Policy. The remaining funds are used to support core university programs.

In addition to financial return from commercial successful inventions, the research community receives:

  • Access to our community
  • Business Development Expertise
  • Market Assessment
  • Legal Advice


The evaluation phase entails working with a CTTEC officer to understand the market readiness and uniqueness behind the technology once you have submitted the invention disclosure form.

First, we consult the Carnegie Mellon IP Policy and clear the rights and title to the invention. If there is an organization with possible claims to the technology, we also check whether they might have any rights to the invention.

Next, we from an evaluation team based on your suggestions and through our external community to best assess the technical and commercial merits of your invention.

  • If it is clear that your invention is owned by the university, your CTTEC representative will contact you to request an initial meeting to determine a promising route to commercialization.
  • If the invention is not owned by the university, we will either send you a letter of no claim and you are free to pursue commercialization independently, or you can assign your invention to Carnegie Mellon via CTTEC.

Market Strategy

During the marketing strategy phase CTTEC performs a rigorous review of the market opportunity. This is geared toward assessing the potential for licensing but provides valuable input should the inventors decide to spin out a commercial venture based on their technology. If a company is formed, CTTEC assesses resource needs and administrative tasks, helps to identify gap funds and resources for proof-of-concept prototypes, provides advice on regulatory requirements and approval and assists with business plan development.

CTTEC works in partnership with a variety of programs at Carnegie Mellon to assist in developing new concepts for eventual commercialization. These programs including:

  • Project Olympus – An initiative designed to create and sustain Next Generation Computing innovation for Western Pennsylvania. It aims to build an infrastructure and foster a climate that will enable talent to take root and flourish in the region-and bring to fruition projects and ideas born here.
  • Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center – The mission of this National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) is to transform lives in a large and growing segment of the population – people with reduced functional capabilities due to aging or disability. Support from Carnegie Mellon’s Vice President of Research and a grant from the Benedum Foundation established a pilot program to accelerate the commercialization of research projects associated with QoLT.

License Negotiation

The license phase begins when a company confirms it is interested in licensing the technology. A license is permission to do something that one could not otherwise do; for example practice a technology covered by a patent or copyright that one does not own. The CTTEC officer will negotiate the terms of the license and will keep you informed regarding the progress and whether the licensor requests anything out of the ordinary. Examples of license agreements are seen below:

  • Exclusive License: An exclusive license is one that states that the party granting the license will not give any other party the same rights in the same field of use (but another party may be given similar rights in a different field of use.) For example, one party may have an exclusive license to use a polymer for a car bumper but another party may have an exclusive license to use the same polymer for a toy.
  • Non-Exclusive License: A non-exclusive license gives the licensee rights in a field of use, but also allows the party that grants the license to give other parties the same rights in the same field of use. For example, two different parties may be granted non-exclusive licenses to use the same polymer to make car bumpers.
You can also access an example template of our licensing agreement [docx].

Enterprise Creation

In the Enterprise Creation Phase CTTEC uses developed processes and expertise to enable a smooth transition out of the University. Some of the services provided to these companies include:

  • Gap Fund Assistance
  • Management Advice
  • Business and Industry Connections
  • Key Management Placement
  • Introductions to 3rd Party Service Providers

Through prior phases in Technology Transfer, we will have already performed a rigorous review of the market, which will be instrumental in helping build the business case for the new venture. Once a company is formed, the team is equipped to assess resource needs and administrative tasks over the next year.

Small funds are available to qualifying companies for proof-of-concept prototypes, advice on regulatory requirements and approval, travel to meet potential customers, market research, and assistance in writing market or business plans.