Working With Us...

There are no rules here - we are trying to accomplish something...(Thomas Edison)

August 29, 1918 Thomas Edison along with Ford and Firestone, visited Winston-Salem. (Left) are a few of the image taken on that day.


Science, technology, and the entrepreneurial spirit. You might say they are part of the DNA in this small city of ours: home to Krispy Kreme and Texas Pete, Wachovia and BB&T, inventors of the Gamma Knife and the VAC. And the Nanotech Center like so many before it, is a Winston-Salem institution. It’s a place for scientists and entrepreneurs to push to the edge of what we know and use what is found there to develop market changing technologies...

How to work with Nanotech:

I.  The Nanotech Center is first and foremost a user facility.  Users schedule time on equipment and pay for that time as they use it.  The rates are very low, even by comparison with other academic institutions.  To do this, you must know how the equipment works and be reasonably competent. We also insist that you be insured before working in our facilities. If you do not know how to use the equipment there are usually training opportunities at the center.  You need only ask.

II. There are those cases however where you want something done but you dont have the time or expertise. And you have no intention of seeking the time or expertise.  Instead you would like for us to do it for you.  Well this “service shop” approach can also be accommodated for some things, but it is limited and it will cost you more. So you will need to contact the director of the Center for possibilities. “Work for hire” is handled on a contractual basis, not hourly.  You will receive an quote for the total cost of the project if we agree to do it.

III. Finally, there are the cases where standard processes and characterizations dont work or need to be supplemented with additional expertise.  This is where our members come in.  The members of the center are specialists in many different fields and they can do things that are not a part of the central facilities.  For those really tough problems, you team with one of the members and he/she then works with you through a sponsored research agreement (SRA) using the Nanotech Facilities.  To start this process, you can contact the faculty member yourself to begin discussions of what can be done. Alternatively, you can contact the Center director and he can help guide you to the right person for your problem.   


Our IP:

Of course there are times when you dont want to invent something, you want to buy-in or develop something we have invented. The Nanotech Center has a large portfolio of IP from solar cells to cancer therapeutics, and it is growing all the time. The possibilities for investors are particularly good because the Nanotech Center tends to develop its IP a little further than most academic centers - giving you a better chance to realize a solid ROI.  

The portfolio divides up into: materials / energy related technologies / biomedical technologies. The management of the IP is handled by WFU in the Wake Innovations department and they have a complete list of what is available.  So to discuss availability you must speak with them.  They would also be responsible for negotiating a license should you wish to buy rights. The Nanotech Center has no role in this.

However, hunting through our IP is not usually how people find that they want to work with our IP.  Usually they become familiar with some member’s work at the center and they pursue this.  So let’s say this is your case.  Then how do you proceed?

I.  You can contact the researcher, the Center director, or the IP office (Wake Innovations) to find out if IP has been filed on the IP of interest and if it is available to license.  Then you can license it straight out and away you go with the right to practice that invention in what ever form you have negotiated.

II. Usually though, going from a piece of paper to a retail shelf requires a bit of work, and more development than is contained in a patent.  Remember that a patent is a rush to protect an idea from others.  So it is usually not all the way worked out for the market.  Therefore you might want to work WITH the inventor to carry the idea a little further. You do this by establishing a relationship with that inventor and sponsoring research in their lab through an SRA.  To do this you will need to discuss costs with the researcher and legal details with the OSRP (office of sponsored research programs) at WFU.  They are different from WF Innovations and they handle how you can legally work with our faculty. The important thing here is that as follow-on IP is developed - it is more specific to your particular product idea and you will have access to it. Spending a little time and money getting your MVP right with the inventor before market entry, we believe, is well worth it.        

For more information please contact Dr. David Carroll (