Introduction to Technology Transfer at IST Austria

Since its earliest days, IST has recognized the important contributions to society that our researchers can make by developing new ideas and technologies. One of the founding principles of IST Austria is that the Institute should play an active role in getting those technologies onto the market, for instance by supporting the establishment of spin-off companies.

Austrian federal law, in conjunction with IST employment contracts, awards to IST the ownership rights in inventions and innovations made by its employees. In return, IST assumes responsibility for seeking appropriate intellectual property (IP) protection and identifying avenues for commercialization of its innovations. Employee inventors receive a share of any income earned by IST from transfer of their technologies.

TWIST, the Technology Transfer Office of IST, manages the portfolio of technologies owned by IST. We work closely with researchers to establish strategies for transferring technologies to industry, whether in the context of collaborations with established companies or by out-licensing technologies.

Reporting an Innovation

If you have an idea or interesting results, contact the TWIST office to arrange an initial discussion. One of our case managers will sit down with you to gain an understanding of your idea, and explore possible commercial applications. Subsequently, submitting an invention disclosure form to TWIST will trigger a formal invention evaluation process. Within 3 months of the submission date, TWIST will inform you of IST’s decision on whether or not to take ownership of the technology.

The TWIST case manager may involve an external patent attorney to draft and file a patent application on an invention. The inventors are expected to assist the patent attorney by explaining the invention and providing data; the patenting costs are paid by TWIST.

If one or more of the researchers behind the innovation expresses an interest in starting a spin-off company, TWIST can provide support in the form of training (for instance through the e-lab), useful personal connections, and orientation towards start-up funding schemes and incubation programs. TWIST talks provide a spotlight for scientific entrepreneurs to inspire others to follow the same path.

Legal Agreements involving Intellectual Property

TWIST and IST Legal Affairs collaborate to ensure that appropriate agreements are put in place to protect IST intellectual property. Confidentiality agreements (CDAs/NDAs) are used when exchanging unpublished information with external academic institutions or companies, and can be prepared upon request to TWIST. Information on Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) for movement of proprietary materials into or out of IST is available here. Research agreements relating to collaborations with industry, and IP Joint ownership agreements with external parties, are tailored to each case and are negotiated on behalf of IST Austria by TWIST.