Johns Hopkins University encourages student innovation, through world-class instruction, dynamic learning opportunities, and robust mentorship. Accordingly, students are presented with different inventorship pathways and startup opportunities. 

Short Separator


While all of the programming, resources, and funding at Pava Center are free and non-dilutive, each student category below has varying options and considerations that can be explored when students are thinking about commercializing their work:

Undergraduate & Master’s: tuition self paid

master’s & Ph.d: tuition paid by university

d.eng: tuition sponsored by company

When students are considering opportunities for technologies they are working on, JHTV recommends the following paths for consideration:

1. License your Technology

At the end of a project, if students no longer want to keep working on the technology and want to get it out into the world, it is recommended that they consider assignment of ownership of any intellectual property (IP) to the university through a Report of Invention (ROI). The university will then evaluate the technology and consider pushing forward the commercialization plan through legal protection, marketing, and licensing agreements.

For more on considering the commercialization potential of your technology, review our Seven Questions.

2. Create a Startup

If, on the other hand, the student wants to push the technology forward themselves as part of a venture that they head, each of the following situations must be considered:

  • Johns Hopkins resources were not used: JHTV recommends students retain full ownership of the intellectual property.
  • Johns Hopkins resources were used: Students must complete a ROI and discuss options with JHTV, including all work created by students as part of any paid appointment. Note: Pava Center resources and standard course engagement do not count as “resources.” For more, please see the FAQ at the bottom of the page.
  • Faculty involvement: If faculty made an inventorship contribution, the faculty must disclose involvement by completing a ROI. The faculty contribution will be reviewed and may be assigned back to the startup. If the startup wishes to retain ongoing faculty involvement in the startup, the faculty must receive approval from school leadership.

For more on thinking through creating a startup, see our Key Startup Questions.

Short Separator



Under 35 USC § 102(b)(1), if an inventor shares information about their invention publicly, then they have one year to file for a patent and pursue protecting anything that was shared.  

A public disclosure can be any non-confidential document or presentation to an outside audience that describes an invention (aka not just “I have a cool new time machine,” but also includes details about the “flux capacitor,” etc).  Examples of public disclosure include:

  • Publications in paper or electronic formats
  • Abstracts, oral or poster presentations at conferences
  • Thesis and other oral defenses (master’s thesis, Ph.D. dissertation, etc.)
  • Publicly available abstracts of funded grant proposal submissions to federal agencies
  • Classes and department meetings*
    • Design Day
    • Department seminar
    • Campus seminar
    • Classroom presentation

*While on-campus presentations are bound by the JHU code of conduct and confidentiality, they may qualify as publicly disclosures if they are accessible to an outside audience (i.e., non-JHU audience members are permitted to attend or the materials are shared out via the internet, print, etc). 


A legal document granted by the government that gives an inventor exclusive rights to make, use, or sell an invention for a specified number of years. Learn more.


A legal protection that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time. Learn more.

IP Inventorship

A filing for intellectual property protection has been submitted and is sent to the U.S. Patent Office.

  • If the team submits a Report of Invention and assigns the intellectual property to JHTV, John Hopkins owns the intellectual property and controls how it may be licensed in order to generate revenue.
  • In the Johns Hopkins’ Report of Invention process, the team must decide upon “contribution percentages” from the participating team members. This helps determine future royalties and more. Please note: contribution percentages are not part of the official patent and they are not indicative of future ownership of any company formed out of the intellectual property.

Startup Ownership

An agreement is made between venture founders about who owns a venture company, moving forward.

  • There are many web resources on typical founders’ agreements and students should also consult relevant departmental resources and Pava Center staff to discuss further.

Project Sponsorship

It’s imperative for university students involved in sponsored projects to thoroughly read their sponsorship agreements, especially the intellectual property clauses, to understand the scope of their rights and obligations. Failing to do so could lead to a misunderstanding regarding the ownership of any intellectual property and the use of research outcomes. 

Students are encouraged to ask questions of all parties involved and carefully consider sponsored opportunities accordingly, especially if they have any startup aspirations. This includes communication with the sponsor and the appropriate Principal Investigator.

Student Employment 

If the student is employed by the university and contributes to a project, as a function of their employment, and that contribution results in IP, the student is obligated to submit a Report of Invention to JHTV. The resulting assignment decisions will vary on a case-to-case basis and may be dependent on the students’ employment agreements with the University. 

Short Separator

Please note: For disagreements with faculty or for help resolving team conflicts, students are to consult with their designated departmental ombudsperson. To avoid these scenarios, teams are encouraged to have written understandings with all involved parties in place.

For further guidance, students are encouraged to review additional information found below and to consult with Pava Center team for coaching and advice.