Guidance and Advice for Innovators

Have an idea? Great! We want to help you make it a reality. However, there are a number of important steps that you need to take and people you need to talk with to make sure your efforts have an impact. Please share your ideas through this form if you need assistance connecting with resources, or email if you have specific questions.

Important considerations

External partners

  • Are you pursing your idea/innovation at the request of an external partner, such as a federal or state agency or a company or out of a desire for social good?
  • Which external partner is most interested in your idea/innovation? Are they willing to fund your research or license the product/technology that you will develop? If so, ask them to provide documentation affirming their interest. The ideal document would be a contract with clearly defined deliverables and budget. Given the current situation, it may not be prudent to wait for a contract to be signed before your start your research work. In that case, you should insist on a letter of intent or an email from the funding entity describing the scope of the project, and the funding they are providing.
  • If the external partner is not willing/able to provide anything in writing in support of your project, please treat your project as a “self-funded” project and work with your unit leadership to determine how you will fund the project.

Rules and regulations

  • Consideration of the regulatory requirements is critical, and Campus Legal can help guard against liabilities. It’s particularly important to clearly describe the uses and limitations of internally produced prototypes, as these are not FDA approved.
  • Differentiate between internally produced prototypes and what we would do with them versus externally produced units in the future.
  • Will your project involve human or animal subjects? Be sure to consider required documentation and submit relevant protocols.
  • Be sure to update or submit registrations to the Institutional Biosafety Committee.

Supply chain

  • Think about the supply chain. How will you source/purchase materials?
  • How will you scale production, if needed? We have many local partners that could produce the parts for local needs. However, consideration of the regulatory requirements is critical.


  • Keep track of internal expenses, including staff time, materials, and supplies.

Technology transfer

  • The Office of Technology Management must sign off on activities. Consider any differentiating factors in the design and the resulting devices. Differentiate between internally produced prototypes and what we would do with them versus externally produced units in the future. Prepare a knowledge and information package, whether there is new IP or not, to succinctly provide information about the innovation/product for others.

Communication and publicity

  • Unit communications officers can work with you to develop a communication strategy. Communications teams in each of the colleges and institutes work regularly with Public Affairs, with OVCRI, and with one another to coordinate efforts.

Institutional approvals

  • Consider who will need advance notice of activities and publicity. Some projects will require multiple approvals. This could include college and institute leadership, Public Affairs, the Chancellor’s office, and possibly the President or the Board of Trustees.

Who do you need to inform?

Especially when you are coordinating across multiple units, it is helpful to have one person serve as project manager. Consider having a central point of contact. You may need to interact with a number of different offices on campus, including

  • Unit Leadership: Associate Dean for Research in your college
  • Technology Management: Office of Technology Management
  • Unit Communications Staff: Communications Officer in your college
  • Risk Assessment: Campus Legal and the Office of Risk Management
  • Industry Partners: Corporate Relations Officer in your college
  • Animal or Human Subjects: OVCRI Compliance Units
  • Infectious or Biological Materials: OVCRI Division of Research Safety
  • Contract Processing: Office of Technology Management, Sponsored Programs Administration, or Contract Services Office.