My idea/discovery has commercial potential – what should I do?

Contact us, preferably before discussing it with anyone else – other than with fellow colleagues or your academic collaborators. Public disclosure via publications, posters or at external meetings, can destroy the chances of filing a patent on a new invention.


When should I contact Sunergos Innovations?

It is never too early to contact us. A general rule, it’s good to contact us before you publicly disclose your idea. We will quickly provide an opinion on whether your invention is sufficiently enabled to allow us to protect or commercialise it. Even in cases where some more work may be needed, we can provide some simple guidance as to what needs to be done to protect/commercialise your idea.

I’m very busy – can I submit my idea to you by email?

Yes you can. Please visit our Business Development or Company Creation pages on the website  to find the most appropriate contact..

If I tell Sunergos Innovations about this, won’t that delay or prevent my publication?

We never delay publication (unless you specifically agree to that). In general, and provided we are contacted a reasonable time before disclosure/publication, we will work with you to file a patent before disclosure occurs. It can typically take one to two months to file a strong patent application. As such it is important to contact us early.

But do please still contact us if disclosure is imminent, or has occurred in the last 12 months, as we may be still able to help.

What information does Sunergos Innovations need to know about my idea?

We need to understand the nature of your new idea, an example of enabling the invention (i.e. proving the principle), and some more general questions such as who funded your work and the names of your collaborators.

How can I raise funds to pursue my idea?

Depending on your position, there are a range of options available to you. We can guide you and assist with your application. For more information see our Funding Options page or contact us directly.

I want to publish as soon as possible as I believe patenting and profiting out of human illness is wrong – I want to give away my discoveries

Publication of discoveries in health care without obtaining patent protection will often ensure that such discoveries are never developed for the good of anybody. Our aim is to work with you to ensure that inventions from our entrepreneurs are developed for the benefit of both the developed and developing worlds.

I discussed my findings with researchers at another university/company and they have filed a patent application – what can I do?

Contact us so we can work with you to structure a formal approach to resolve this issue. Then you need to find all the emails, letters, meeting notes and any other records of what was discussed, when, and whether confidentiality was absent, implied or explicitly agreed (such as through a Non-Disclosure Agreement or marking your presentation as ‘confidential’.

How can the undergraduates, research students, post-docs and other staff in my department/team learn more about IP?

Contact us. We will be delighted talk to you and your colleagues about IP, and how we can help inventors to benefit from their inventions.

Why can’t I patent my own invention?

You can, as long as it’s not related to your position at the University. If it is, under the terms of your contract of employment, inventions made by University employees as part of their duties as employees become the property of the University. If we decide to file a patent application, the University bears all patent costs at its own risk. If the invention is commercially successful, significant revenues can be returned to the inventor. If not, the inventor pays nothing.

What is in it for me (or my department/faculty/college if I approach Sunergos Innovations about a potential new invention/idea?

Unlike most Industrial companies, the University as your employer operates a discretionary ‘Rewards to Inventors’ scheme. It provides for a proportion of future income from the commercialisation of intellectual property to be returned to the inventors/contributors according to a set scheme. Details on the revenue share and ownership of IP are available on the University website.

I’m the inventor, but my post-doc did all the work – should they be named on the patent and share the future rewards?

It is important to distinguish between ownership, ‘inventorship’ and authorship of your idea.

If in doubt, contact us and we will work with you to determine each of those contributors.

I’m a student. I believe I own any IP I create while studying, so I don’t need to speak to Sunergos Innovations, do I?

Students are required to adhere to University policies. The University policies covering IP and students make it clear that where a student has acted on the instructions or in conjunction with his/her principal investigator to invent something, then the University owns the Student’s IP in that situation and will treat and reward the student as if they were an employee of the University.

A charity has sponsored my work and I think some IP may have arisen. Does the charity get something for funding the work?

Yes. Most UK charities now put in place ‘terms and conditions’ prior to funding the research and these set out ownership and commercialisation rights for IP arising during the research. As a general rule, the University owns the IP arising and a share of any future commercial proceeds are returned to the charity.

I think I may have already signed over what I thought was ‘my IP’ to someone else – what should I do?

Contact us immediately. If we find you do not own the rights to the IP, any documents you signed are unlikely to be legally binding with respect to transfer of any rights over the IP.

I want to start a spin-out company – what should I do?

Contact our Company Creation team who will be able to advise and support you.

I’m an NHS employee – should I speak to Sunergos Innovations or the NHS?

NHS Lothian employees should contact Sunergos Innovations as we provide IP protection and commercialisation services for the Board.

I’m a University employee but my salary is fully/partly paid by someone else (ie. the NHS or a charity)?

IP ownership remains with the University. In some cases, Sunergos Innovations may have come to an arrangement with certain charities that have excellent commercialisation capabilities of their own. Please contact us and we will be able to advise you on what to do next and who to contact.

I’m a University employee who was funded by the Medical Research Council – do I talk to you or to MTC Technology (MRCT)?

As an University employee your first contact should be with Sunergos Innovations. We will look at the grant terms and conditions and can quickly advise whether MRCT should be contacted or not.

I jointly invented something with a collaborator from another university with a technology transfer office. Do we approach them or Sunergos Innovations?

You need to approach both technology transfer offices. The offices will then examine the contribution from both sides, decide between them the party who will commercialise, and that party will lead the patenting and commercialisation. Importantly the non-leading party (and their inventors) receive a fair share of any future revenue.