Meet Licensing Associate Raju Nagaiah, Ph.D.

October 7, 2015

Raju Featured ImageRaju Nagaiah, Ph.D., is a Licensing Associate in University of Central Florida’s Office of Technology Transfer (OTT). He holds two master’s degrees—in Mechanical Engineering and in Industrial Engineering—and a doctorate in Industrial Engineering from UCF.

He joined OTT in 2012 and works with faculty, students, and industry partners within the physical sciences.

Much of Nagaiah’s work is centered on reaching out and creating connections with people inside and outside of the university. When it comes to reaching out to faculty, Nagaiah may have several reasons for doing so. “Sometimes, I reach out to faculty of a particular research interest if I find a relevant funding opportunity. I reach out to them if we have identified a potential licensee who would like to know more about their technology,” he said.

The licensing process begins when a faculty member discloses their invention to OTT. Nagaiah said that he uses this opportunity to meet with them to learn more about the disclosed technology as well as their research. “At the same time, I use that opportunity to explain our role and how they can benefit from our office,” he explained.

Nagaiah’s day-to-day activities also involve coordinating the inflow and outflow of communication. “Throughout the day, I coordinate with General Counsel, as well as with clients about licensing agreements, option agreements, or inter-institutional agreements.” Potential licensees may request to visit a faculty’s lab to further understand the technology. Nagaiah coordinates the permissions of these visits, where a confidentiality disclosure agreement (CDA) or non-disclosure agreement (NDA) will be needed so that the researcher can discuss the patent pending technology.

Nagaiah finds that certain challenges can crop up in the licensing experience, mainly the navigation of the steep learning curve of how the licensing process works. “When working with start-ups or small companies, in the beginning of our relationship, we provide a lot of assistance and guidance,” he noted. As both inventors and industry partners work together with OTT, both parties become more independent with their gained knowledge and experience.

In terms of his most successful licensing experience, Nagaiah mentioned Helicon Chemical Company, a student-led startup based in Orlando, Florida from Pegasus Professor and UCF Distinguished Professor Sudipta Seal, Ph.D.’s lab. This startup’s technology is centered on improving the burn rate of solid propellants used in rockets and missiles through the use of nanotechnology. What makes this experience unique and successful is that the company is founded by the student who helped to develop the technology, wrote his dissertation on the technology, and is now commercializing the technology. Additionally, Nagaiah himself was able to learn many things about this area of nanotechnology through the licensing process.

For researchers interested in disclosing their technologies to OTT, Nagaiah had this to say: “Researchers work on complex problems, like cures for cancer, efforts toward energy independence, or solving transportation problems—these are all good and worthwhile things to research, but they require a lot of infrastructure and R&D effort in order to take the invention from the concept stage to the market stage. But the day-to-day problems of consumers, where the product costs less than five to ten dollars—these sorts of solutions can be taken to market with little cost. They would be very easy to license, and it’d be easy for anyone who wants to license the product to take it to the next level.” Most of the technologies OTT manages are complex and require strong partnerships for successful research, development, and commercialization.

For entrepreneurs interested in taking ideas to the marketplace as licensees, Nagaiah remarked that the ideal entrepreneurs are able to “think things through. They have researched what a particular technology can do. The licensee needs to know what kind of network and investors are needed. They need months of due diligence before starting the licensing process.” This due diligence is to ensure the long-term success of product development and commercialization.

In order to have a healthy, beneficial licensee/licensor relationship, Nagaiah said that timely communication is key, as well as continued guidance and support. “Providing the right communication and connecting the licensee with the right people can help to develop a good relationship with the licensee. Once the technology is licensed, we connect them to business development groups such as UCF’s Venture Accelerator Lab or Business Incubation Program.”

Overall, Nagaiah enjoys his job at OTT. “The job we do is challenging because licensing associates must have a technical edge, a legal edge, as well as a business edge. A licensing associate has to coordinate with people from all three areas, as well as with colleagues, faculty, students, and clients.” All that effective coordination and communication results in forming relationships that bridge the research lab and the marketplace and impact our world.

If you’re interested in disclosing your UCF invention or licensing UCF technology, contact Raju Nagaiah to get the conversation started.


Written by Deborah Beckwin