University of South Carolina


Helping creative people create

By Jeff Stensland,, 803-777-3686

Universities are natural breeding grounds for original thinking and big ideas. But getting “the next big thing” off campus and onto store shelves and into homes can be complicated and time consuming when going it alone.

USC’s Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) housed in the Office of Research wants to lend a hand. It’s launching two new innovative programs designed to uncover hidden gems and smooth the path for bringing inventions to market.

“We want to help educate our university faculty and students about the technology commercialization process, provide a means to stimulate and reward creative thought and recognize our colleagues who are already prolific inventors,” said Pam Benicewicz, associate vice president for research at USC.

The Invention Incentive Program is now offering faculty, staff and students a minimum of $100 for each new idea. If the TCO finds the idea promising, an additional $900 will be awarded. Qualifying for the money requires submitting a complete invention disclosure form.

The upside to working with the university to help develop an invention is huge. First, USC establishes legal protection for the intellectual property. That means no one else can swoop in later and claim it. USC also assumes the upfront legal costs associated with filing for and receiving a patent, which can be expensive and take several years.

If a company is interested in commercializing the invention through a licensing agreement with USC, the inventor who disclosed the idea receives 40 percent of the royalties after legal costs. “That 40 percent can be a significant pile of cash,” Benicewicz said.

In addition, the TCO is launching a new invention contest called Invent Event. The competition will be open to USC undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and post-doctoral fellows who will compete for prizes totaling $50,000. The contest will be judged on the relative novelty and marketability of the invention.

Special consideration will be given to submissions in four focus areas:

• Health Sciences

• Advanced Materials

• Energy

• Environment and Sustainability

Additional details about the competition can be found at

“Having been an active researcher and inventor myself, I believe all creators of new knowledge have almost a moral obligation to get their best creations into society,” Benicewicz said. “This helps society increase its well-being and standard of living, and helps the economy by creating new jobs and products in ever-evolving sectors.”

To find out more about the new Invention Incentive Program and the Invent Event, visit

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Posted: 03/05/13 @ 9:00 AM | Updated: 03/06/13 @ 5:50 PM | Permalink



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