Including a Commercialization Plan in Your Next Grant Proposal

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Maria Emanuel

This summer, UNHInnovation (UNHI) had the opportunity to host a roundtable discussion at the regional NORDP (National Organization of Research Development Professionals) meeting held at UNH. Our discussion was loosely themed “Commercialization, Technology Transfer, and Innovation,” all favorite topics of our office.

I had the opportunity to sit with Drs. Julie Chen (Vice Provost for Research, University of Massachusetts at Lowell) and Ali Andalibi (Associate Vice President for Research Development, University of Connecticut) for a very engaging conversation. One highlight was discussing the role of commercialization and technology transfer in research proposals, specifically those submitted to federal agencies. From their personal experiences with the National Science Foundation (NSF), both Drs. Chen and Andalibi remarked on the forward-thinking approach of the NSF about the role of commercialization as a method to disseminate research results and demonstrate their implementation. We also discussed the fact that more and more proposals submitted to the NSF will likely need to address commercialization in support of this approach.

While we have not seen a requirement from most of the federal agencies to include commercialization, I believe that there is value in preemptively addressing this topic in all research proposals. Commercialization is a viable mechanism to convey research “outputs” to larger audiences, in addition to traditional methods such as scholarly publications and presentations. Commercialization can have the added benefit of enabling larger audiences to access the research through their ability to consume or use it as a product or service.

Importantly, commercialization also provides an opportunity to preserve the integrity of the research that created the product or service. Proposing a commercialization plan to introduce research outputs to larger audiences may help distinguish your research proposal and highlight the innovativeness that you bring to your research program. And it’s important to remember that commercialization can range from selecting the appropriate open source license to a traditional, fee-bearing license agreement – the bottom line is that we want to protect the value of the research while enabling others to benefit from it.

Our office is available to talk further about commercialization, intellectual assets, and research development. Please contact me for additional information: Maria Emanuel at

Maria Emanuel,
Associate Director, UNHInnovation