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. 

Basic Terms

Patent: 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.

Copyright: 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.

Student IP Options

While all of the programming, resources, and funding at FastForward U 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:



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

1). License your Technology
If students have completed their commitment to the work and want their technology to be available to 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.

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: FastForward U 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.

An important aspect to any commercialization process is that all stakeholders understand the difference between IP inventorship contribution and startup ownership. These definitions include:

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

  • In the Johns Hopkins’ ROI 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 IP.
  • If the team submits a ROI and assigns the IP to JHTV, John Hopkins owns the IP and controls how it may be licensed in order to generate revenue.

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 FastForward U staff to discuss further.

For further guidance, students are encouraged to review additional information found below and to consult with FastForward U staff for coaching and advice.




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.