Faculty & Researchers

Frequently Asked Questions

I'd like to discuss options for startup development or licensing of my research. Who should I contact?

The Harvard Office of Technology Development, which is part of the Provost’s Office and has a dedicated Business Development team that engages with faculty and researchers across the university. Harvard OTD can work with you and your lab to advance your research through industry partnerships and accelerator programs; protect and manage intellectual property created through your Harvard research; and develop a commercialization strategy that could result in licensing or a new venture.

Harvard OTD has created The Inventor’s Handbook to serve as an introductory guide to intellectual property and development for Harvard faculty and researchers. 

How do I report an invention or intellectual asset to the Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD)? Why is reporting important?

The Office of Technology development provides guidance and instructions on how to submit a Report of Innovation form. Completing the Report of Innovation form is a crucial first step toward protecting your interests and your innovation’s potential.

OTD’s ability to protect intellectual property falls in jeopardy if you publish, present, or share your findings with others on a non-confidential basis before OTD files a patent application. If you plan to disclose any information about your innovation to others, please contact OTD immediately.

Harvard OTD has created The Inventor’s Handbook to serve as an introductory guide to intellectual property and development for Harvard faculty, researchers, and innovators.

What accelerators, funding, or resources exist at Harvard to help move promising ideas toward licensing and commercialization?

Through a research agreement, industry partners may sponsor research in your lab, helping you advance your work in a single area of mutual interest, or they may enter a strategic alliance at the University level to make substantial progress in a wider field. In either case, these relationships are typically developed and managed by the Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD). These partnerships can help you develop your ideas and early-stage technologies toward future licensing, while adding value to the funded technology and enriching your work with new perspectives. Most importantly, you retain control of your projects and your right to publish.

In addition, Harvard runs accelerator programs that provide funding and strategic advising to help commercially promising innovations become fully developed. These programs can help you to extend preliminary observations, establish a solid proof of concept, scale up a product or process, and generate or enhance a valuable intellectual property position. Accelerator funding of Harvard research through the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and the Harvard Grid Accelerator can lead to industry sponsorship, licensing, or the launch of a startup.

What fellowships and funding opportunities are available for postdoctoral scholars?

There are a variety of opportunities for postdoctoral scholars to pursue: 

  • The Harvard Technology Fellowship offered by the Harvard Health Technology Program at Harvard Medical School in partnership with Harvard SEAS, provides a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration and the development of novel solutions for unmet healthcare needs. 
  • The Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, previously open only to MBA alumni, is now also welcoming applications from Harvard-affiliated postdocs. The program is a full-time, salaried, residential fellowship.
  • Harvard Office of Technology Development runs a year-long Business Development Fellowship, a part-time, paid opportunity that invites selected Harvard Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers to participate in the crucial early stages of technology assessment and development, gaining experience in translating research discoveries into products that reach the public.

Additionally, the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Research Administration Services provides a curated list of internal and external funding opportunities for postdoctoral scholars.

Can Harvard connect me to mentors, experienced entrepreneurs, and industry experts for advice?

The Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD) can introduce you to experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts through its Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) and Experts-in-Residence (XIR) programs. EIRs become familiar with the latest research in Harvard labs, give advice on entrepreneurship and innovation, and can help catalyze new startups around Harvard technologies. Separately, the XIRs have a wealth of experience in company formation and leadership, intellectual property strategy, legal transactions, product development, regulatory affairs, marketing, corporate partnerships, and more.

What entrepreneurship programs can Harvard researchers participate in to learn about venture formation?

Harvard Grid hosts events on campus year-round including office hours with serial entrepreneurs, panel events with recent company founders, networking events, venturing and business skills bootcamps,  and more. Visit the Events page to see what suits you. Also, speak with the staff of the Harvard Grid to discuss your work, external partnerships, team building, business modeling, or whatever is on your mind.

What are some examples of startups that have launched to commercialize Harvard innovations?

Harvard innovations have formed the basis of many new startup companies in Massachusetts and around the world. Harvard's Office of Technology Development describes some of the Harvard startups with origins in academic research that are now striving to impact education, health care, food and agriculture, energy, sustainability, high-tech goods, and more. 

Harvard's entrepreneurs benefit greatly from our proximity to Boston and the startup communities surrounding our campuses. Boston is a hub for innovation with highly active entrepreneurial ecosystems. Learn more about the resources available on campus and in the region through the resource lists below. 

Harvard Office of Technology Development list of resources: Resources for Entrepreneurs