Intellectual Property Policies

IP06 Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurial Activity (Faculty Research) (Formerly RA12)

Policy Status: 

Under Review

Subject Matter Expert: 

Office of Technology Management, 814-865-6277,

Policy Steward: 

Senior Vice President for Research



To establish appropriate policies for technology transfer activities, including the establishment of faculty companies and consulting; and identifying and reducing the potential for conflicts of interest.


Technology transfer must be effected within the framework of an individual's obligations to the University. Actions which serve personal interests to the detriment of University interests must be avoided. Outside activities should be pursued in a manner consistent with the primary obligations of University personnel to teaching, research, and service to the public.

The potential for conflict of interest and/or commitment exists when University personnel exercise preferential access to knowledge, and/or University resources, for personal gain. The appropriate framework for faculty involvement in either commercial or not-for-profit enterprises, including "faculty companies," has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in concert with cognizant University administrators. Mechanisms whereby potential conflicts will be managed must be set forth in a Management Plan approved by the University’s Conflict of Interest Committee and/or the University Conflict of Interest Official per policy RP06, Disclosure and Management of Significant Financial Interests.

As an adjunct activity, consulting should be carried out in a manner consistent with a faculty member's obligation to the University, including his/her terms of employment. All those individuals who carry the rank of Penn State faculty are allowed to engage in consulting up to a maximum of four days, or 40 hours, per month during their appointment period, per policy AC80, Faculty Outside Professional Activities and Conflict of Commitment. There are two other limitations:

  • consulting activities may not interfere with the performance of University duties or other contractual obligations of the University. Likewise, consulting activities may create the potential for a conflict of interest (such potential conflicts must be disclosed and properly managed or eliminated prior to consulting, in accordance with policy RP06, Disclosure and Management of Significant Financial Interests). 
  • the consulting activities should enhance the faculty member's professional stature or academic proficiency.

In extraordinary circumstances, if faculty need to exceed the monthly limit (but not exceed the annual limit of 360 hours for a nine-month appointment, or 480 hours for a twelve month appointment), approval must be given by the department chair.

Faculty are expected to inform cognizant University administrator(s) of the extent and nature of consulting activities prior to undertaking them. (Refer to the Consulting Summary Report for forms used to report consulting activity.)

A faculty member may not provide consulting services to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for additional compensation without prior written approval from the President of the University.


Technology transfer
is the process whereby University creative and scholarly works may be put to public use and/or commercial application.
Faculty Company
is an enterprise, either commercial or not-for-profit, in which one or more faculty members have a proprietary or other significant interest, pecuniary or otherwise.
Cognizant University administrators
include deans, department heads, program and center directors, office directors, or other individuals delegated by the budget executive to administer such matters.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research.


A complete statement on the University's policies and procedures relative to technology transfer and entrepreneurial activities, including consulting, is available in the document entitled, "University Policies Governing Technology Transfer & Entrepreneurial Activity," available from the Intellectual Property Office.

Also see other appropriate Policies, especially the following:

AC47 - General Standards of Professional Ethics

HR35 - Public Service By Members of the Faculty and Staff

AC40 - Annual Evaluation of Faculty Performance

HR42 - Payment of Personal Compensation by a State Agency or Department of the Commonwealth

AC64 - Academic Freedom

AC76 - Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

AC80 - Faculty Outside Professional Activities and Conflict of Commitment

HR91 - Conflict of Interest

IP01 - Ownership and Management of Intellectual Property(Formerly RA11)

IPG02 - Co-Authorship of Scholarly Reports, Papers and Publications (Formerly RA13)

IPG03 - What to Expect When Licensing a Penn State Technology into a Start-Up Company (Formerly RAG14)

Effective Date: September 13, 2016

Date Approved: September 12, 2016

Date Published: September 13, 2016

Most Recent Changes:

  • September 18, 2019 - Changed Vice President for Research to Senior Vice President for Research

  • September 13, 2016 - Changes have been made in the POLICY section to reflect current management of technology transfer and conflicts of interest. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • February 24, 2016 - Policy renumbered from RA12 to IP06 and relocated as part of the reorganization of the Research Administration section.
  • December 20, 2013 - Editorial change in CROSS REFERENCES section. RA10, Addressing Allegations of Research Misconduct, has been removed. Revisions to RA10 make it no longer applicable to this particular policy as a cross reference.
  • July 24, 2006 - Editorial changes: links were revised because of changes to the Grants & Contracts website.
  • January 4, 2006- Editorial changes made to paragraph discussing consulting activities (first bullet).
  • December 15, 2005 - verbiage added to the "Policy" section to further clarify the limitations on consulting activities as they relate to potential conflicts of interest.
  • November 8, 2005 - Editorial change to add Policy RA20 as a cross-reference.
  • March 22, 2005 - Editorial changes to eliminate "General Forms Usage Guide" reference and correct form links.
  • June 15, 2004 - The maximum amount of time that a faculty member may engage in consulting has been changed from one day per week to four days per month.
  • June 15, 2004 - Added a cross reference to policy guideline RAG15.
  • February 28, 2003 - Editorial change: form URL updated.
  • February 20, 1998 - Relocated and renumbered Policy RA12 from AD37, and updated RA10, RA11, and RA13 locations.