Lucy Booth is Head of Intellectual Property (IP) at the University of Oxford. Lucy and her team work closely with Oxford University Innovation and other external technology transfer offices to establish whether parties outside of the University have a claim to any rights in the intellectual property created by members of the University.
Academics create all different sorts of research outputs (such as inventions, research materials, data, software, even questionnaires) and some of these can be a piece of intellectual property that could be used or developed commercially for public benefit.
The Technology Transfer team helps researchers explore the potential of their output: whether it could be patented or licensed for further development, for example. Then my team work alongside the academics and any external collaborators and funders to make sure all of those parties that have contributed to its development are in agreement with the next stage plan.
Lucy’s work involves establishing who owns the IP and ensuring consents and formal agreements are in place to allow the right to use the research output.
I always say half of my job is problem-solving. Sometimes contractual arrangements exist before the research takes place, but when arrangements are more informal, then it’s a matter of talking to people to discuss a proposal, ironing out any misunderstandings or disagreements and ensuring contributors appropriately share any benefit or recognition from a successful outcome. Once everyone is happy, we formalise it legally in writing.
Research administration attracts people from a variety of backgrounds, says Lucy, with each bringing different skill sets. Her own background is in chemistry and she has a Master’s in medical genetics and immunology. She started work as a researcher on osteoarthritis, before taking the step into administration.
Most of my training has been very much on the job, but in recent years training courses have become available through bodies such as Praxis-Auril and ARMA as research administration has developed as a profession.
It plays a vital role in strengthening the university and its research. We do a lot of work to build and maintain relationships between funders and collaborators. If these are well managed, then it promotes confidence in future collaborations and creates a virtuous circle for research.
Last updated: 2 September 2021