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Global EIR programs help universities retain foreign start-up founders


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

The U.S. election and the incoming administration’s harsh immigration stance may change things moving forward, but universities seeking to boost their technology commercialization efforts can still set up global entrepreneur-in-residence programs that facilitate foreign-born innovators’ entry into the U.S., where they can start new companies to feed economic development.

Though global EIR programs tend to run alongside existing tech transfer offices, not through them, TTO executives who are waving goodbye to foreign students with good start-up ideas due to visa expiration may want to examine the benefits of such a program.

The basic concept is designed to get around limits on H1-B visas, for which universities are exempted from caps. The workaround requires the visa holder to work at least 20 hours as a university employee, and a growing number of schools are hiring foreign start-up founders as part-time EIRs so they can build their companies locally, where they got their degrees.

The programs have become popular as universities have “expanded their core mission beyond basic academics through developing tech transfer offices to promote research commercialization,” says Craig Montouri, executive director and co-founder of the Global EIR Coalition. The Coalition is a 501(c)3 organization that supports universities in setting up and running global EIR mentor programs — and that connects immigrant inventors with those programs. “Similarly, in recent years, centers for entrepreneurship have become ubiquitous and demonstrate a similar expansion of the academic mission in parallel with the traditional tech transfer mission to drive economic development, in the form of job creation via the university’s role as an innovation hub,” Montouri says.

The main point to note about global EIR programs, he adds, is that they are designed to help “add a new complementary model to the traditional tech transfer approach that positions the universities as innovation hubs, driving broad economic development outcomes while generating value around the human capital concentrated in the university.” It helps, he adds, that GEIRs “also drive forward many other emerging university initiatives in promoting entrepreneurship and expanding the entrepreneurial and other professional opportunities in the innovation economy they offer their students.”

A GEIR program is up and running at the University of Alaska, reports Isaac Vanderburg, director of the Alaska Small Business Development Center, which is hosted by UA Anchorage within its Business Enterprise Institute. “Through the program, UA will attract international talent to the campus and local community,” he explains. “The EIR will mentor students, faculty and staff across various disciplines on a range of projects that require an entrepreneurial mindset, and will guest lecture in classrooms and community forums, teach workshops and judge business competitions.” As importantly, he adds, the program “enables entrepreneurs to launch or grow their start-ups in Alaska while working part-time at the university to assist with local entrepreneurship ecosystem development.”

A detailed article on a variety of Global EIR programs appears in the December issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the entire article, along with the publication’s 9+ year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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Georgia Tech and local industry leaders to launch start-up accelerator fund


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology and 10 of the city’s top tier corporations, has announced the launch of a mentorship-driven accelerator program and venture fund that city leaders hope will further their hopes of expanding one of the Southeast’s most vibrant innovation ecosystem. continue reading »

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Checklist for Drafting and Negotiating Robust Patent License Agreements


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

Executing license agreements is arguably one of the most important activities a TTO engages in. But even the most experienced licensing professional can make missteps during the drafting and negotiation process — missteps that can lead to less than optimal revenues, licensee disputes, and inadequate IP protection. Because licenses have so many moving parts, it’s wise to create a guide or checklist to keep all the important gears moving smoothly.

Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division has assembled a top-notch team of presenters to lead this 60-minute, how-to webinar that will take you point-by-point through an airtight checklist that ensures every agreement extracts maximum value and leaves minimal room for disagreements later.

Join us on January 31st for Checklist for Drafting and Negotiating Robust Patent License Agreements. Our panel will guide you through the 9 most critical areas to examine in every deal — and provide every attendee with a detailed, itemized checklist — so you can be confident you’ve considered every key aspect of each agreement and left nothing on the table.

For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Sandia tech transfer firm faces uncertain future as management of the national lab shifts


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

Technology Ventures Corporation (TVC), a nonprofit tech commercialization firm based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is facing an uncertain future as the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) transfers the management of Sandia National Laboratories to the multinational conglomerate Honeywell International. continue reading »

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UChicago launches $23 million start-up investment fund


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

The University of Chicago (UChicago) is launching a new initiative to boost campus entrepreneurship by funding companies spun out of the university. The UChicago Startup Investment Program will invest $23 million from the school’s endowment over the next decade in start-ups based on university intellectual property or launched by UChicago students, faculty or alumni. continue reading »

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Just published: Determination of Royalty Rates for Technology Licensing


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

The just-published Determination of Royalty Rates for Technology is packed with in-depth, expert information to help you determine an appropriate royalty rate for your specific technology. You’ll find straightforward descriptions and guidance on different models used in calculating royalty rates and valuation. With this 42-page resource you’ll receive:

  • A comprehensive review of surveys, data analysis, rules of thumb, profit differential methods and discounted cash flow analysis for determining an appropriate royalty rate for technologies.
  • Guidance on the impact on royalty rates associated with exclusivity, minimum royalty payments, upfront license fees, naked patents, and royalty rates for trade secrets.
  • Examples of various methods used to establish a royalty rate range for use in licensing negotiations including
  • Royalty rate ranges and benchmarks in specific technology sectors

Act now to get this new reference packed with tables and graphics, data analysis, and how-to information on calculating royalty rates for your technologies. For complete details and to order, CLICK HERE.

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UT-Austin, focusing on entrepreneurship, is aiming to create an “inoversity”


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

Bob Metalfe, the tech visionary who invented the Ethernet, has been working now for five years with the University of Texas-Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, and his mission to engender a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is becoming part of the university’s fabric. As a professor of innovation, Metcalf spends his time mentoring faculty, students, and alumni on how to build start-ups based on their ideas. He calls what’s developing at Austin an “inoversity,” and he believes it’s a course more universities should be following. continue reading »

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Norwegian University licenses technology that captures and repurposes CO2 emissions


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has licensed a technology that efficiently captures CO2 to produce a high-quality gas. continue reading »

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Yale gets $10M grant to launch life science commercialization fund


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

Yale University has received $10 million to launch a new fund aimed at bringing life science innovations from the lab to the marketplace. continue reading »

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MaRS Innovation links with Evotec to launch start-up focused on fibrotic diseases


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

MaRS Innovation and Evotec have teamed up to launch Fibrocor Therapeutics, a start-up that aims to improve the treatment of fibrotic disease. Fibrocor will work with Evotec to advance molecules that show potential to prevent, slow or reverse fibrosis, with plans to select a lead candidate in 2018. continue reading »

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Comings & Goings


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 18th, 2017

Larry Gilbert, considered the founding father of technology transfer at Caltech, passed away in November of 2016 at the age of 84. In the 1990s, Gilbert joined the Caltech TTO after having cut his teeth at MIT and then creating Boston University’s tech transfer office in 1976. He was also a co-founder of the Association of University Technology Managers, the leading national organization for tech transfer professionals that now boasts more than 3,200 members at 300 universities, research institutions, and teaching hospitals.

When he arrived at Caltech, patents and licensing were handled through the Office of the General Counsel, and he created the TTO from scratch. The office became the campus hub for receiving and evaluating invention disclosures, working with the U.S. Patent Office, negotiating licenses with outside companies, and developing commercialization strategies for faculty and students interested in launching startups.

Gilbert based the office’s philosophy on four core principles, says current director Fred Farina, chief innovation and corporate partnerships officer: create and maintain trusting relationships with faculty and other researchers; utilize a robust patenting strategy; focus on start-ups; and always understand that tech transfer gives Caltech two bites at the apple — one through equity from successful companies and the other through supporting tomorrow’s philanthropic leaders.

“Larry was a mentor and a friend to many people in OTT, including his successors…,” Farina says. “He taught us everything we know about tech transfer.”

Source: Pasadena News Now

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For early-stage start-ups, try a SAFE approach to attracting investors


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 11th, 2017

Not many technology transfer offices have used a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) to help fund a pre-income startup, probably because it isn’t specifically a TTO-focused instrument. But it’s a tool that TTOs and their start-ups may wish to consider.

A SAFE is a way to woo very-early-stage investors by promising them equity participation at some time in the future, but it’s not a convertible debt device; in fact, it’s often viewed as a replacement for that instrument.

The SAFE was originally created for the start-ups being nurtured by leading accelerator firm Y Combinator. The group maintains that the SAFE agreement “addresses many of the problems with convertible notes while preserving their flexibility.” According to Y Combinator, features of a SAFE include the following:

  • Unlike a convertible note, a SAFE is not a debt instrument. Debt instruments have maturity dates, are typically subject to certain regulations, create the threat of insolvency, and can include security interests and sometimes subordination agreements, all of which can have unintended negative consequences for start-ups.
  • A SAFE-governed investment is not a loan and will not accrue interest. This is beneficial for start-ups, but also better embodies the intention of investors, who are not typically in the lending business.
  • As a flexible, one-document security without numerous terms to negotiate, a SAFE can save start-ups and investors money in legal fees and reduce the time spent negotiating. Typically only one item – the valuation cap — requires negotiation.

Y Combinator has created four versions of a SAFE template, corresponding to the four types of convertible note (cap, no discount; discount, no cap; cap and discount; and MFN, no cap and no discount). Each document can be accessed at the YC website (https://www.ycombinator.com/documents/).

Here are the most important terms featured in a SAFE:

  • Along with valuation and share price, many terms of the equity agreement — including distribution preferences, anti-dilution mechanisms, conversion from preferred to common stock, protective provisions, and other details — are deferred to the future liquidation event.
  • If the start-up dissolves before there is a liquidity event, SAFE holders may receive their investment back (without interest) prior to any distribution to company stockholders, if cash is available for that purpose.
  • The SAFE holder’s liquidation preference is typically 1x (equal to the original SAFE investment) even if later investors get a higher liquidation preference for the same preferred stock equity. For this reason, SAFEs are said to convert into “shadow preferred” stock.
  • Some SAFEs provide that in the event of a merger, acquisition, or IPO, a SAFE holder may convert the SAFE into shares of common stock rather than preferred, calculated based on the valuation cap; or opt to get the original investment refunded.

A detailed article on the potential benefits of using SAFEs as funding vehicles for university start-ups appears in the December issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, as well as the publication’s rich, 9-year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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