A startup is a new business entity formed to commercialize one or more related intellectual properties. Forming a startup business is an alternative to licensing the IP to an established business. There are several factors you should consider to determine if a startup is viable:
- Development risk. Often large companies in established industries are unwilling to take the risk for unproven technology.
- Development costs versus investment return. Can the investors in the startup obtain their needed rates of return?
- Potential for multiple products or services from the same technology. Few companies survive on one product alone.
- Sufficiently large competitive advantage and target market.
- Potential revenues sufficient to sustain and grow a company.
TCS can help to determine if a startup company is viable, and will advise on other key issues relating to starting a company. The choice to establish a new company for commercializing intellectual property is a joint decision made by TCS and the inventors. If a new business startup is chosen as the preferred commercialization path, TCS can assist you and the other founders in meeting investors, consultants and entrepreneurs and accessing other resources at UConn to advise you in founding the company. It is wise for inventors to have agreements regarding their roles with the startup reviewed by their own counsel to ensure that all personal ramifications – including taxation and liabilities – are clearly understood.
The general process for the selection of potential technologies for a university startup includes a review of inventions based on criteria such as:
- The market size (at least $300 million preferred)
- The technology can be adequately protected through patents, copyright or trademark to create barriers that make market entry difficult for competitors.
- The technology is scalable.
- The estimate of the net present value of the return (less the costs of getting the business going) is much greater than the value that can be obtained by executing a typical license with an existing company.
- Is a prototype/proof of concept available?
- Do the inventors have a reasonable understanding of what is required to build a business, and what their roles may be?
- Does the business model have a visible path to profitability?
- Are the initial management and financing needs reasonably clear?
- Early stage involvement. TCS staff is actively involved in the early stages of the company and work with their network of professionals to find initial management, space and other critical elements. In some cases, the staff may take on interim management roles to facilitate the accomplishments of key milestones, such as drafting a business plan, meeting with venture capital firms or angel investors to obtain funding and assisting with a liquidity event.
- Business/financing assistance. TCS staff can provide business help and/or financing advice. We have several programs for assisting in market research, business planning and the set-up of new companies including a business incubator that offers space and business services and the Business School’s Innovation Accelerator where MBA students and faculty undertake semester-long project.
- Connections with industry partners. TCS helps to connect researchers and industry partners. We strive to connect external entrepreneurs and businesses with collaborators within a university or to identify resources that will help them advance their technologies and business interests. Many opportunities to create mutually beneficial projects between university researchers and regional tech entrepreneurs can be initiated thanks to this ability to efficiently connect.
- TCS serves in a liaison role. External businesses and entrepreneurs are invited to contact TCS staff and discuss their initiatives, needs, goals and objectives. TCS works with these clients to understand the key issues and to determine if there are opportunities to develop mutually beneficial working relationships and projects. TCS staff can provide business help and/or financing advice.
- Establishes projects that advance businesses toward commercial success. These projects are selected to align with UConn research interests, such that as early-stage companies achieve success, they are well positioned to strengthen their collaborations with UConn researchers. These projects are also selected based on the ability to generate positive economic development outcomes in the region. Typical engagements include market research projects on behalf of small firms who are applying for SBIR grants that, if successful, will lead to opportunities to engage UConn researchers and their graduate students on larger development programs. UConn faculty who are interested in reaching out to small technology businesses in the state are encouraged to contact TCS.
- Incubator program. UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (“TIP”) is part of TCS. TIP offers new companies that have a technology linkage or synergistic relationship with UConn the ability to be located on campus and access resources that could be otherwise unattainable for a fledgling company. TCS supports the incubation process offering lab and office facilities on campus, business-planning resources, and access to faculty experts, expensive instrumentation and specialized equipment. In some cases TCS clients are working with UConn technology and others have their own intellectual property. TIP provides the following services to startup companies:
- Library and Computer Network – Access to UConn Libraries, the largest public research collection in the state. The University of Connecticut Libraries provide users with intellectual content that fulfills their academic and research needs through electronic and physical access.
- Equipment/Instrumentation – Some of the departments and faculty have large and expensive specialized items of equipment. TCS’ incubator helps negotiate agreements between the relevant faculty and the company, given that time is available on the instrument and client employees have been properly trained.
- Business Support – Through a network of service providers and advisors, TIP provides a variety of business consultants including accountants, lawyers and subject matter experts to help with issues important to startup companies. TCS staff can support business plan development and financial planning. TCS organizes educational and networking events to promote collaboration among faculty and company scientists, to provide exposure to experienced entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial resources, and to assist through connections with advisors and mentors. Through the School of Business, TIP can arrange access to knowledgeable faculty and students able to conduct business development projects for emerging companies. Learn about our TIP program.
For additional resources to help you start your business, click here.