Technology Transfer Services and Investment for Public Sector Research Innovations

We offer various options for our services but most commonly work on a fully contingent, non-fee basis, instead taking a portion of future commercial revenues, shared with the original source of the technology.  We commonly cover patent costs and can, in occasional circumstances, inject funds directly to carry out critical proof-of-concept or technology development work. We work actively with inventor-researchers to leverage both public and industrial funding to develop and strengthen their innovations.

PBL Technology welcomes approaches from any scientist or technology transfer office (TTO), from any public research organisation, who is interested in our services.  We are happy to enter confidentiality agreements at the appropriate stage, but in any case we treat all incoming inquiries in strict confidence unless the discloser indicates otherwise. We will give a fast and honest opinion, free-of-charge, on the prospects for new innovations and we will not engage on technologies for which we do not feel we can provide added-value services.

PBL has worked with many public research institutions over many years, and at any one time we usually have innovations from over 30 different sources in our portfolio. Those we serve or have served include:

In the UK:
John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Quadram Institute, Rothamsted Research, University of Aberystwyth, University of Birmingham, Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, University of Glasgow, Lancaster University, University of Leeds, University of Leicester, University of Warwick.

Elsewhere in Europe:
KU Leuven and VIB, Belgium; University of Aarhus and University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Joint Biotechnology Laboratory, Finland; INRA, France; CSIC, CNB, Universidad de Murcia, Universidad de Sevilla and Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain.

CONICET, Universidad Nacional La Litoral and Universidad Nacional Rosario.

Florida State University, Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, Stanford University, Texas A&M University, University of Wyoming, Virginia Tech and Yale University.

Institute of Genetic and Developmental Biology (CAS), Institute of Crop Sciences (CAAS), Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Hangzhou Normal University, Nanjing Agricultural University, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University.

We are always keen to evaluate potential IP from researchers to add to our existing portfolio of technologies and to build strong relationships with new sources. Please contact us for further information or visit our Inventors’ Information section.

Identification of Technology Opportunities

PBL aims to work with researchers to identify existing and emerging innovations at an early stage. Upon identification of a technology opportunity, it is reviewed with the inventor-scientist(s) to identify potential applications. Subsequently we undertake a preliminary analysis of the technical and commercial feasibility of the development and exploitation of the technology against the prevailing and future technology landscape. If the outcome of this first evaluation is positive then PBL will work with the inventor-scientist(s) and his/her organisation to consider adopting the technology for protection, marketing and commercialisation. We are particularly aware of the needs of academic researchers to publish their research and we have many years of experience navigating around such necessities so that intellectual property can be protected without the need to delay or prevent publication in the scientific literature. In this respect, we strongly advise contacting us as early as possible to assess and plan for possible new innovations and commercialisation ideas.

Once we have reached a positive decision about a new technology, we enter into a licence agreement with the source organisation (usually the employer of the inventors) giving PBL responsibility for protecting (patenting) and promoting the technology in question. This we do in close cooperation with the inventors and the source organisation. See our Inventors’ Information and PBL Guide to Patenting sections.

Enhancement and Protection of Technology

In most cases, significant additional efforts and investment are required to develop technologies generated at academic research institutes before they can be adopted by industry. PBL works closely with inventor-scientists to ensure technology is at the optimal stage for promoting to industry. In order to justify all the necessary investment, PBL seeks to secure intellectual property protection for technologies with commercial potential. Where possible, the preferred form of protection is in the form of registering for patent rights but other forms of intellectual property rights or legal protection will be employed when deemed appropriate and effective. PBL usually bears the costs of intellectual property (IP) protection are either borne by PBL Technology, though optionally these may be shared with the relevant source organisation. To strengthen IP and to position new technology for industrial uptake, PBL works actively with inventor-researchers to secure both public and industrial funding, such as public or public-private grants for innovation. In certain circumstances, PBL may inject its own funds directly to carry out critical proof-of-concept or technology development work.

Commercialisation Strategy

PBL will determine the preferred strategy for engaging with industry to develop and commercialise a particular technology, aiming for as broad as possible development of the opportunity, wherever in the world there are applications.  While for early-stage technologies, licensing to an established and technically capable industrial partner, or partners, is the most common route, starting up a new venture is also considered in certain circumstances.  There is often a temptation for public researchers to approach industry, whether directly or via their TTO, extremely early in the innovation process, for example to obtain further funding for research in exchange for a promise of intellectual property rights.  PBL can give impartial advice on when and how to approach industry, especially in the very early stages of conception of industrially applicable ideas.  We may give such advice free-of-charge, but this is usually in the context of an established working relationship with the particular research group or university.


Licensing a technology is a well-established route in the commercialisation process and is an area where PBL has an excellent record. PBL has an established international network of business contacts and this, combined with the existing industrial links of inventor-scientists, enables active, targeted marketing of the technology portfolio. When licensing, PBL aims to find as many partners/licensees as necessary to achieve rapid deployment of an invention in each major market, worldwide, and in as many applications as possible. Partners/licensees must have the technical and commercial capability to bring licensed technology to market, as well as being able to secure appropriate freedom-to-operate and regulatory approvals as required.

We are flexible and pragmatic in structuring agreements with industry to provide a strong incentive to evaluate, develop and commercialise the licensed technology and at the same time receive fair consideration to share with the source of the relevant technology, and to finance PBL’s own operations.

Exclusive rights to exploit technologies developed with public funding will only be granted where the licensee is willing to commit to timely evaluation and diligent commercial development and exploitation of the technology in accordance with an agreed plan specifying milestones and time-lines. In addition, whether exclusive or non-exclusive, regular and informative reporting by industry partners to PBL of progress and plans is an absolute requirement.

New Business Formation

PBL can help with the formation of start-up companies in the right circumstances and we have many years of experience of the start-up process.

There are a number of key ingredients for any such new enterprise including: a valid, value-building business proposition, excellent technology and/or products  underpinned by a strong IP platform, an experienced management team, and robust funding from well-aligned investors.  During the business creation process we optimise these components for the particular circumstances.

It is essential to prepare a comprehensive, detailed business plan and associated high quality presentational material.  This requires in-depth assessments of technology, markets and competition to be carried out, potentially using external consultants/intelligence to ensure that findings are valid.  The plan will need to cover all aspects of the business opportunity in a way that is clear and persuasive to potential investors.  PBL will assist the preparation of such an investment-ready business plan.

There are a number of potential benefits to scientist-entrepreneurs and academic institutions from using PBL to manage or assist in their business-creation projects because:

  • PBL has wide expertise and experience of biotechnology commercialisation and an in-depth understanding of the relevant markets
  • PBL has a successful track record of working with academic scientists to develop their ideas into commercial success.
  • PBL can cover significant out-of-pocket costs, including IP protection costs, in the pre-financing stage.
  • PBL has, or can access through its network of contacts, a wide range of operational management expertise particularly suited for technology start-up ventures.
  • Utilising PBL will provide assurance to public funding bodies and their auditors that a business creation project is being handled in a competent manner by an organisation that is experienced in managing the exploitation of publicly funded research.

Please contact us for further information or to discuss any of our services.