Policy on consent and revenue and equity sharing

This policy sets out our key requirements for commercialising Wellcome-funded intellectual property (IP).

Usually you need our consent before commercialising Wellcome-funded IP. However, we waive this requirement for researchers working at not-for-profit institutions, subject to the conditions below.

When Wellcome-funded IP is commercialised and revenue and/or equity is generated, a share must be returned to us. Our default share is 25 per cent, but we may reduce this in accordance with the provisions of this policy.

Our position

We provide funding for:

  • biomedical research through our Science team
  • translation and innovation activities through our Innovations team
  • research and public engagement activities through our Culture & Society team.

We support this breadth of work to improve health for everyone. As a charitable foundation we must ensure that the results of the research we fund are applied for the public good.

Most of the work we fund best supports our mission by being freely disseminated through scholarly journals. We require published outputs to be made available in accordance with our open access policy.

However, sometimes the work we fund best supports our mission through some form of commercialisation of the IP it generates, eg patents or copyrights. This policy sets out our position with respect to revenue and equity sharing, and consent when commercialising such IP.

In the past, we asked all award holders to obtain our consent before commercialising Wellcome-funded IP. To simplify this process, we no longer require prior consent for awards made to not-for-profit universities or research institutes under our standard grant conditions (subject to the conditions set out below). But it is essential that organisations continue to tell us about their IP-related activities. 

We have an obligation under charity law to ensure that private benefits arising from our funding, such as wealth creation, are acceptable. To meet this obligation, we typically take a share of any revenue and equity our award holders generate from commercialising Wellcome-funded IP and reapply this income to support our charitable objectives.

To strike a balance between incentivising translation and meeting our charitable obligations, we have chosen to simplify our default revenue and equity share under our grants to a flat rate of 25 per cent.

All organisations we fund can apply annually to retain amounts payable to Wellcome from the previous year, and reapply them to fund additional translational efforts or to improve access to healthcare interventions.

Policy statement

1. Unless we have waived our prior consent right (see section 2), all award holders must obtain our written consent before entering into transactions to develop or commercialise Wellcome-funded IP.

2. For not-for-profit universities and research institutes, we waive our right to prior consent for any awards made under our standard grant conditions.

Instead, we will provide consent retrospectively, as part of our standard revenue and equity sharing agreement, when you report the commercialisation to us (see section 5). We will keep this waiver under review, and it may be modified or withdrawn at any time. For it to continue, an organisation must:

3. In most cases, the terms of our funding for companies will be directed by our programme-related investments policy [PDF 102KB], rather than our standard grant conditions. Companies must always obtain our written consent before entering into transactions to develop or commercialise Wellcome-funded IP, and bespoke revenue-sharing terms may apply.

4. We will usually take a share of the revenue and equity received by our award holders from the development or commercialisation of Wellcome-funded IP. The standard share in respect of our grants is 25 per cent.

Different arrangements may apply if we fund through a programme-related investment, or if we provide significant follow-on funding to an award. These different arrangements will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

5. Every funded organisation needs to complete and submit a Consolidated IP and commercialisation report [DOCX 66KB] once a year, covering all of its Wellcome-funded awards (unless other bespoke reporting conditions for commercial entities have been agreed). A revenue and equity sharing agreement will form part of your consolidated IP and commercialisation report, if applicable. Aggregate amounts payable to Wellcome must be declared in this report.

6. Each funded organisation can apply to retain some or all of the aggregate amounts payable to Wellcome from the previous year. We will consider applications where the retained sums will be used to advance our mission by supporting new translational activity or improving equitable access to healthcare interventions – particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Should you choose to make this application, it must be included in your annual Consolidated IP and commercialisation report [DOCX 66KB]. If we have agreed other reporting arrangements with you, please contact innovationsoperation@wellcome.ac.uk to apply. We will consider applications on a case-by-case basis, and any retained revenue or equity will be subject to terms and conditions.

More information

This policy was published in May 2018.