The predecessor of ACE was the Otaniemi International Innovation Centre (OIIC) at the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) established 1998, which acted as a technology transfer office (TTO) for the University. The OIIC was primarily focused on patenting activities and licensing technologies to medium and large companies, and not very much to smaller companies. The creation of spinout companies was not considered as an important commercialization route for the OIIC. One key driver for establishing Aalto University was to accelerate the path towards an entrepreneurial university with a major focus on contributing to economic development and innovation.
ACE was established in 2010, on the basis of the previous OIIC, to reflect this ambition. Rather than focusing only on the patent protection process, ACE has concentrated on exploiting the commercial potential of invention disclosures from the very beginning. The priority has been to identify commercially attractive inventions, develop potential business cases and choose the most suitable technology commercialization approach, i.e. to decide whether to purely license the technology or to build a spinout company from it. In order to reach this goal, it was necessary to redefine the internal commercialization process as well as to empower the skill set available inside ACE.