Scientific research is increasingly leading to inventions
The number of the University of Oulu invention disclosures and copyright announcements has grown in the last two years. In 2022, a total of 56 notifications were made, which is slightly above the long-term average. Almost half of the inventions were based on conventional research, while the rest were based on commissioned or contractual research. All 14 inventions based on commissioned research have been transferred to the client’s possession for a possible patenting process.
“A typical research-based invention is often a new method that enables the manufacture of products saving energy and raw materials, for example. One example of such development originating from the university is Keko Geopolymeerit Oy, which manufactures geopolymer products for the circular economy,” says Jouko Uusitalo from the University Innovation Centre.
The number of University of Oulu-specific patent applications filed was nine last year and ten in the two years before. Over the past decade, annual applications have varied between two and nine. In 2022, the university was granted a record of seven new patents, the first in new patent families. The university already owns more than 50 patent families.
“An example of a university patent portfolio could be ‘A low-temperature manufacturing method for ceramic electronic components’. To protect the method, the university has built a patent portfolio consisting of four different patent families, based on the results of the research group led by Academician Heli Jantunen.”
A patent family refers to patents granted in different countries to protect one invention. “The commercial utilisation of the method sought by the university, and its potential, will be investigated in the Research to Business project funded by Business Finland.”
Last year, the university also signed a record number of seven commercialisation-related agreements.
A few new growth companies or start-ups emerge each year from the research projects. Last year, new companies from the University of Oulu included Emedpatch Oy, which develops a smart patch, and LessonLab Oy, which develops an educational project management game.
“Examples of successful companies in recent years include Cerenion Oy, Valossa Labs Oy and Onnikka Health Oy. The University Innovation Centre can serve researchers by supporting new research-driven business ideas to obtain patents, new team members and financing,” says Uusitalo.
“There are currently around a dozen commercialisation projects underway, which we expect to create several start-ups already this year.”
Pictured: At the Lohja housing fair site in 2021, Keko Geopolymerit Oy developed a recipe for geopolymer concrete, which was used in the site's floor casting. Photo: Tero Luukkonen