Knowledge and Techology Transfer Guidelines

  • Réf. 0314
  • Date de publication : 17/06/2019

Table des matières

This GUIDELINE is  an  official  translation  of  the  DIRECTIVE  0314 « Directives  en  matière d'accords de transferts de technologies et de compétences» published on February the 27th 2018 in  the  University  of  Geneva  MEMENTO.  In  the  event  of  inconsistency  or  discrepancy between the English and the French version of the Directive, the French version shall prevail.



The purpose of these guidelines is to clarify University of Geneva's policy on technology and knowledge transfer agreements. This term includes economic valorisation agreements that give third parties the opportunity to exploit intangible assets generated within the University, research and service contracts with the private sector, as well as support to start-ups based on valorisation agreements (spin-offs).

Scope : University of Geneva employee

These  guidelines  are destined  to  each person bound  to  the  University  by  an  employment contract, namely the members of the teaching staff (teaching and research collaborators as well as professors) and members of the administrative and technical staff.

Non-salaried staff of the University of Geneva

Persons without a work relationship with the University of Geneva (for example, students or researchers  sent  and remunerated by  other  research  institutions) are not subject to these guidelines. If,  however,  these  persons are  involved in research activities carried  out  by the University  of Geneva and for which the  latter has made intellectual property commitments towards third  parties,  it  is paramount to  clarify before hand  and in writing the status of intangible property rights and their commercial exploitation.

Agencies responsible for implementing these guidelines

Unitec is the service created  by the University  of  Geneva for purposes  of  interacting with members  of the university community in all aspects related to technology and  knowledge transfer agreements. Unitec remains the point of contact for researchers  for any  questions regarding  these  guidelines. The Rectorate remains the competent authority to commit the University in technology and knowledge transfer agreements.


Institutional activities
Means the activities of a member of the teaching staff or the administrative and  technical personnel carried out within the scope of their assignment or, failing any, in discharge of their function. As a rule, the entire activity of a faculty member or full-time administrative and technical staff is institutional activity. Ancillary  activities and external activities are subject to separate directives (ancillary activities).

Intangible assets
Intellectual  results generated  by research are  considered  as  intangible  assets. Legal protection of intangible assets is mainly ensured by copyright (works, software) and industrial property  rights  (inventions,  trademarks,  design,  etc.).  The  filing  of  a  patent  application  is  a mean of acquiring an intellectual property right to an invention.

The  licence  agreement is the contract  by which the owner of a  patent  or  other  intellectual property  rights authorizes a third party to use some of those rights, while remaining  the ownership of such rights. The agreement must primarily define the ambit of such rights (e.g.right of use, right of exploitation, sales territory), determine the scope of the licence, address liability issues and set the amount of royalties. The licence agreement should be adapted to the specific circumstances of the case.

Assignment of intellectual property rights
Anassignment agreement is  a  contract  by  which  the University  assigns  to  a  third  party (person  or  organization)  its  intellectual  property  rights,  for  example  those  covered  by  a patent.

An option grants an economic partner the opportunity to negotiate a licence or transfer of rights  agreement relating to intangible assets.  During  the  lifetime  of  the option, it  is  thus possible  for  the economic partner to evaluate the technology on offer  while  ensuring  that  it will not belicenced or assigned to other parties.

Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)
The Material Transfer Agreement is an agreement  whereby aparty transfers tangible material (mainly  but not exclusively biological material, e.g.cultures, cell lines, nucleotides, proteins, bacteria,  transgenic animals, pharmaceuticals and  other  chemical or technological products) to another party.  The agreement aims to  regulate the use of this material and defines the rights and obligations of the parties, in particular those relating to inventions that might arise from its use.

Collaboration Agreement
The industrial partner and the University of Geneva both have expertise in the same or complementary fields and agree on the financing and the scientific realization of the project.
The parties agree to share the rights in the results  of  the  project, taking into  account  their respective contributions.

Service mandate
The  project is carried out  exclusively or mainly in the interest of  the  industrial  partner.  Competencies or the scientific infrastructures of the University of Geneva are made available and  the  company  seeks  a  defined  service;  it  reserves its right  to dispose of the research results. The  industrial partner  must bear all  the  costs  (billed  according  to standard market conditions) generated by the execution of the research. These must be set taking care not to create a situation of unfair competition vis-à-vis private laboratories.

Innosuisse Contract (Swiss Innovation Agency)
This  type  of  contract  makes  it  possible  to  obtain  funding  from  the Swiss  Innovation  Agency for   research   and  development projects  involving higher  education  institutions and companies. Support amounts to up to 50% of project costs and funds the research institutes involved.  The  company  provides  the  remaining  50%  in  the  form  of  direct  benefits  and  a financial contribution. A supplementary contract regulates the terms of collaboration between the various partners.

European research projet
Projects focus  on  specific  themes  and are  submitted  in  response  to  calls  for  proposals.  A consortium  contract  regulates  the  collaboration modalities between  the  various  partners  (euresearch).

Spin off
A  spin-off  is  a burgeoning company (start-up)whose  activityis  based  mainly  on  the commercial  exploitation of valuable results generated by the University of Geneva and for which a valorisation agreement has been signed.

Valorisation agreements

General framework
Intangible property rights and tangible  results  generated   by   a   faculty   member   or administrative  and  technical  staff in the  exercise  of  their  institutional  activities  or  by  other than a marginal  use  of academic infrastructure (equipment, finances, human resources), belong to the University. Copyright is the subject of special treatment.

There  are  different  types  of  valorisation agreements  (Option, Licence,  Assignment  of intellectual property rights, etc., see chapter of definitions).

Role of the University
The University has sole authority for valorising the results of research carried out in its midst and that are of economic interest. It encourages the industry to develop innovations derived from its research for the benefit of the public. Therefore,  valorisation agreements  are  subject  to  the  prior  approval  and  signature  of  the Vice-rector in charge of Knowledge and Technology Transfer (signing guidelines).

Role of Unitec
In  collaboration  with  researchers,  Unitec  assists  in  assessing  the  commercial  potential of research results,  defines  the  best  valorisation  strategy,  identifies  and  contacts  potential industrial partners, drafts and negotiates valorisation contracts. It processes applications for approval submitted to the Vice-rector.

Valorisation and publication
Valuation  and  publication  are  not  mutually  exclusive. After  a disclosure (see  below) and  to the  extent  that this does  not  conflict  with  agreements between the  University and third parties, creators retain the right to publish their work results that have valorisation potential.

Mandatory disclosure
It is mandatory to disclose without delay any intangible asset that has valorisation potential, to avoid jeopardising its potential valorisation by virtue of a premature publication (annonce d'invention).

Patent filing
Upon disclosure of  an  invention and if, after joint evaluation by the researchers  and Unitec, the latter determines that patent protection is desirable, Unitec willfile, at its expense and in collaboration with the inventors, a patent covering this invention.

Revenue split
The University shares with the inventors a portion of the financial benefits generated by the commercial exploitation of the intangible assets they have created.

After  deduction  of  the  external  costs (patent fees  etc...),  the valorisation  benefits are allocated as follows:

For a tranche of up to 50,000 CHF of benefits received by the University:

•50% to the inventor (s).
•25%  to the entity (s) to which the inventor (s) is (are) related.
•25%  to the University of Geneva.

For the any tranche in excess of 50,000 CHF of benefits received by the University:

•1/3 to the inventor (s).
•1/3 to the entity (s) to which the inventor (s) is (are) related.
•1/3 to the University of Geneva.

Unitec   is   responsible   for   collecting   and   distributing   net   revenues generated by   the commercial exploitation of intellectual property rights by third parties.

Each inventor may request Unitec to credit his/her personal share to the entity to which (s)he belongs. If  all  inventors  choose  this  possibility,  the  University  share  is  paid as  well to  the entity(ies) to which the inventor(s) is(are) attached.

The organization guidelines of the primary research and teaching unit (UPER) or the center or the interfaculty institute designate the entities mentioned above.

Assignment to creators
If  the  University,  through  its  Unitec  service,  does  not  wish  to valorise the intangible assets that have been disclosed, it  may assign its rights to the creators at  their  request and to  the extent  that  this  does  not  conflict  with  agreements  made  with  third  parties.  The  terms  of  the assignment are determined by common agreement with Unitec and submitted for approval to the Vice-rector in charge of Knowledge and Technology Transfer.

Industrial research contracts

General framework

The  policy  of  the  University  of  Geneva with  regards to research  contracts  aims  to  promote research collaborations  with  companies  in  a  spirit  of  reciprocal  partnership  taking  into account the different missions of each partner.

The  research  contracts  define  the  research  program,  budget,  rights  over  the  results  of  the project as well as the other rights and obligations of the parties.

There  are  several  types  of  research  contracts  such  as  collaboration  agreements,  service mandates, Innosuisse contracts or European project consortium agreements (see definitions chapter).

Overheads, VAT
A  compensation for and a participation  in  the  costs  of  managing  and  using  university infrastructure  applies  to  all  industrial  research  contracts (overheads). It should also be ascertained whether VAT applies to the contract amounts.

Role of the University
Industrial  research  contracts  are  subject  to  the approval  and  signature  of  the  Vice-rector in charge of Knowledge and Technology Transfer  (signing guidelines), via Unitec.

Role of Unitec
Unitec  is  tasked  with  drafting  and  negotiating  industrial  research  contracts  in  collaboration with the researchers. It processes the applications for approval submitted to the Vice-rector.

Support to spin-offs

General framework
The University of Geneva encourages the creation of companies that wish to develop and/or commercialize the results of research carried out within the University.

In a technology is  covered  by  one  or  more  patents  (or  patent  applications),  the  most commonly used form of contract is the grant of an exclusive licence for use in the start-up’s field of activity.

Conflict of interest
When members of the faculty or administrative staff of the University of Geneva participate in a  start-up,  scientific  cooperation mightlead  to  conflicts  of  interest  due  to  the  different  tasks and objectives of the parties involved.

To detect and manage such conflicts in time, personal commitments ensure transparency of the relationships and a clear distinction between the various activities deployed (-> personal commitments).

Provision of scientific equipment
Access  to  University  equipment may  be  granted  to start-ups  (and  more  generally  any business) subject to certain conditions. Together with the researchers, Unitec determines the applicable prerequisites.

Equipment access agreements are considered as a service mandate and are subject to the approval  and  signature of  the  Vice-rector in charge of Knowledge  and  Technology  Transfer and of the responsible principal investigator (signing guidelines).

Ancillary activities, holidays
Subject  to  certain  conditions,  full-time  faculty members  of  the  University are  allowed  to engage  in  paid ancillary  activities,  for  example  by participating in  a  start-up as  a scientific consultant.

These activities are subject toa separate regulation (ancillary activities).

It  is  also  possible  for  a  faculty member of  the  University  to  request a  leave of  absence, for example to start a start-up (leave).

Role of Unitec
Unitec is available to support start-up project initiatorand to study with them the opportunities offered by the University of Geneva to help them realize their project. A list of organizations likely to provide support toproject sponsors is also available on the Unitec website ( Unitec).

Version Purpose of the amendment Publication date
2 Document contrôlé à jour en novembre 2020
Révision du langage épicène
1 Controlled document updated in November 2020
Revision of epicene language
Auditor Laurent Miéville (UNITEC director)
Approver Didier Raboud ( Secretary general)

Dernières modifications : 10/06/2024