Technology Transfer Overview

Technology transfer transforms ideas into opportunities through the formal and appropriate licensing of MIT-produced technology.

"Technology transfer" refers to the formal licensing of technology to a third party. At MIT this process is managed and administered by the Technology Licensing Office (TLO).

The steps involved in the technology transfer process may vary in sequence or occur simultaneously. This process is broken down into three overarching stages, each of which is then broken down into more granular processes.

  1. Submitting a technology disclosure: Researchers disclose innovations to the TLO after they have demonstrated a new invention. This leads to the TLO's evaluation of the disclosure subject matter.
  2. Patenting an invention: The TLO evaluates the invention, selectively elects to protect inventions with patent protection, and explores commercialization avenues to bring the technology to market.
  3. Commercializing an invention: Licensing agreements are negotiated, leading to the licensee's further development commercialization of the technology, generating revenue for both MIT and the inventor, which supports further research and education.


Your cooperation and collaboration is a critical part of the success of any technology transfer process. You can assist the TLO during this process by:

  • Contacting the TLO as soon as you believe you have a scientific or technical observation with potential commercial or research value.
  • Providing sufficient time to file a patent application by completing and submitting the MIT Technology Disclosure in the Research@MIT app at least one month before submitting the manuscript for publication or before publicly disclosing your technology.
  • Abstaining from discussions with people outside the MIT community (other than under a nondisclosure agreement) to avoid risking MIT's ability to pursue patent protection on an invention.
  • Allowing MIT to negotiate a Non-Disclosure Agreement with any outside party in the event you need to discuss your invention with a third party prior to obtaining a patent.
  • Sharing any company or personal contact information for those you believe may be interested in MIT intellectual property or who may have already contacted you about an MIT invention.
  • Committing to being a responsive partner during the patent process—we strive to make efficient use of your time, but the patenting process does take several years, and there will be times when you are expected to respond to requests from the TLO and the outside patent counsel hired by MIT.
  • Keeping the TLO informed of upcoming publications or interactions with companies related to your intellectual property.

Reasons to Participate

Each researcher’s reasoning for participating in the technology transfer process is unique. Potential reasons may include:

  • Making a positive impact on society
  • Feeling a sense of professional fulfillment
  • Achieving recognition and financial reward
  • Generating additional department/center funding
  • Meeting the obligations of a research contract
  • Attracting research sponsors
  • Creating educational opportunities for students
  • Linking students to future job opportunities

Benefits of Tech Transfer

Our new technology transferred to industry enhances industrial competitiveness, brings new products and services to the public, and fosters economic development and new jobs.

In addition, the creation and deepening of company relationships through these activities support MIT’s mission by facilitating additional research projects, broader educational opportunities and collaborative investments.

Every year, the TLO works with MIT inventors and licensees:

  • Evaluating hundreds of technology disclosures
  • Negotiating dozens of new commercial options and license agreements with established companies and MIT startups

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