Information for students, faculty and staff regarding COVID-19. (Updated: 19 October 2020)
The Innovation Office supports university researchers, students and employees in developing their ideas and turning them into something real. By providing useful tools, a structured approach and by facilitating useful contacts, we help provide a plausible route forward.
Do you want the world to benefit from new diagnostics, smart algorithms, innovative methods or a useful product or service? Regardless of scientific area or niche, we help you in a structured manner, to investigate, test and develop your idea – for it to come to proper use.
In many cases, the Innovation Office is the first stop on the innovation journey. Here you find support, advice and resources to help you develop, finance and protect your idea. Together with us you work in a stepwise process and a structured manner to explore options and minimize risks. And our advice is free of charge.
The world and everyday life is full of both challenges and possible solutions. You have undoubtedly thought that “someone should really do something about that” at one time or another. And that very thought is a good starting point for both traditional and social innovations.
One way to start developing an idea is to take a closer look at and encircle the envisioned user or customers’ needs and problems. Do this while thinking of how to address the problem using your knowledge and expertise. Keep a lookout for what benefits your idea would contribute with – compared to already existing solutions.
Working with actual problems and nagging issues that need solving is fundamental. By conducting interviews and doing market research you can find out how interesting your idea really is to the envisioned target group. This information serves as a compass for your idea during the innovation process. We regularly organise workshops using established methods. You can also get help with idea visualisation, concept and prototype development. Just about anything can be prototyped.
You will have to confirm, adjust and even reject your hypothesis as you go along – it is all part of the innovation process. We help you work in a structured manner, following an efficient methodology, to identify and minimise technical and commercial risks.
As a researcher, you make discoveries and publish exciting results. Do you want to try new ways to help your results become more useful, have greater impact and contribute to a greater understanding in society?
Results from a research project can be both exciting and ingenious. However, this does not mean that they are immediately applicable and useful in society or commercially interesting, in their crude form. Knowledge, results and ideas must be adapted to the user’s reality, needs and problems. And we can support you through this process.
Are you a student with a business idea of your own, or simply interested in innovations and entrepreneurship? Both situations present opportunities to create value, add to your network and gain experiences, for your CV and the future.
Our goal is to encourage more students to start, and run, their own businesses. In a collaboration with Drivhuset, using their LOOPA method, we specifically want to help and spur students on to develop business ideas. The focus lies on you as an entrepreneur.
In addition to this, there are a multitude of offers, events, meet ups and programmes from the combined innovation support system for people interested in startups. No doubt you will be able to find something that appeals to you and your situation.
Developing ideas into something concrete and useful requires both money and resources. As a researcher, you have addressed several basic questions as part of everyday research, but new kinds of questions and activities surface during an innovation process. This is where the Innovation Office and the support system come in handy. With our help, researchers, students and employees at Umeå University can get support to verify and validate their ideas. To test that if it is a sound way forward.
Our earmarked funds (VFT, validering för tillämpning) make it easier to take the next step in the innovation process. In many cases that includes ensuring that the idea matches an articulated need from the target group, but it may also be technical, legal or IPR (intellectual property rights) related questions that need answers. Or maybe a specific competence is necessary to make progress during a phase of the journey.
Eventually, you and your company may face an important step that requires external financing. The innovation support system has an extended network of investors, but even the most innovative companies may find it difficult to attract venture capital. Umeå University Holding can, in select cases, invest in promising early stage startups, or spin-offs.
Even if your driving force is utilisation and community benefits – and you are not aiming to start a profitable company, finding financing and a sustainable revenue model is still important. Maintenance and updating services are dependent on resources. If you include funding in your plans from the start, your important service, function or information stands a bigger chance of being useful and making a substantial impact for a longer period of time.
If you have an idea or invention that may be of use commercially, or by public or non-profit organisations, it is important to investigate ownership at an early stage. At the Innovation Office researchers, students and employees can get advice on ownership, agreements and IPR (intellectual property rights). IPR questions may include topics like copyright, design protection, novelty searches, licencing or non-disclosure agreements connected to the utilisation of a product or idea.
In Sweden we have the professors’ privilege. This means that researchers own the rights to their inventions and can protect them with a patent. Still, agreements coupled to for instance funding can affect ownership, as well as the right to make decisions regarding the idea. These are important factors to be aware of before you initiate collaborations with external parties. Mapping the current ownership and intellectual property situation is part of the innovation process for most ideas and innovation projects at the Innovation Office.
If you plan to publish promising research results (as an article, a presentation at a conference, an abstract, a poster or in a grant application) you should consider if it is meaningful to protect your invention before the knowledge becomes public. Please, contact the Innovation Office in good time to jointly decide if a patent is feasible and desirable, or if other forms of protection better suits your idea. The quality of application and outcome is dependent on both good supporting material (such as a manuscript draft) and time for proper dialogue between the inventor and patent attorney before submitting the patent application.
We want to aid the progress of ideas and innovations. When necessary, we collaborate with external experts on IPR and contract law.