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Ohio State program encourages women to shine as entrepreneurs


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

A program at Ohio State University (OSU) is trying to close the gap between men and women entrepreneurs by helping female innovators overcome major challenges in the industry.

REACH for Commercialization is meant to provide insight into both the commercialization process and each woman’s individual management style. Participants are introduced to successful OSU female entrepreneurs and to the resources and personnel at the university’s Technology and Commercialization Office (TCO).

According to studies, female researchers are much less likely than men to obtain a patent, which is the first step of commercialization. Caroline Crisafulli, entrepreneur in residence at REACH, says that “women are less likely to start the process unless they have all the answers,” and that when it comes to entrepreneurship, “men are more aggressive about getting networks together.”

OSU grad student Ashanti Matlock says that REACH helped her resist the urge toward perfectionism and self-doubt, a trait that she believes a number of other women in the program also shared. By helping her to understand and develop her own approaches to challenges, REACH encouraged Matlock to focus on “acknowledging what I’m good at and building on that instead of what I’m not good at.”

Crisafulli adds that, because women often see things differently than men, a higher number of women entrepreneurs would mean adapting commercialization programs to their unique characteristics and challenges. While that may require some gender-specific outreach and programming, it’s by no mean an insurmountable barrier.

“Women don’t need to make themselves like men,” she says. “We need to embrace the wonderful attributes that we have. My personal opinion is that women can be phenomenal entrepreneurs.”

Source: Science

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Carnegie Mellon partners with VC firm to develop solutions to energy challenges


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University and Chrysalix Venture Capital have partnered to develop solutions to challenges in the field of energy resources. continue reading »

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How to Best Structure University Start-Ups for Long Term Success


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

When transitioning IP from the lab into a start-up business, the decision regarding how to structure that business is an important one – in fact, it can have a profound impact on the long-term success of the company. Why? Because the structure you ultimately choose will either help or limit your ability to raise capital. It may also subject you to, or shield you from, federal duties and taxes. And lastly, it will either protect personal assets from creditors or allow them the right to pierce the corporate veil.

For university-based start-ups, it’s even more vital to properly define the business structure so the university and other major stakeholders understand the risks and benefits of moving IP from lab to start-up and beyond. On April 26th, join Tech Transfer Central’s Distance Learning Division and our expert team of presenters for How to Best Structure University Start-Ups for Long Term Success. They’ll conduct a deep-dive webinar workshop into the various business types, their pros and cons, and their impact on key business issues.

For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Purdue Research Foundation partners with LA-based venture fund to boost commercialization


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

The Purdue Research Foundation and LA-based investment firm Kairos Ventures have partnered to bring substantial funding support to research, technologies and start-ups at Purdue University. continue reading »

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Penn State challenge to industry nets $1 million gift to support start-ups


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

Penn State University President Eric Barron had an idea that he put to the test. He offered $1 million in matching funding for the school’s start-up accelerator, Happy Valley LaunchBox, if a company or companies would donate $1 million. He pitched it as an economic development booster, and longtime partner PNC Bank quickly stepped forward to offer the first $1 million gift.

So, if you’re looking to find a company or companies to help fund a project that furthers commercialization and helps fuel your region’s economy — as most TTOs would love to do — you may want to take a page from the Penn State playbook.

As the matching funds plan was designed and approved, Barron’s million dollar challenge didn’t have to come all from one source. For example, one company could contribute $10,000 and another $500, but when the total reached $1 million, Penn State would match it. While other programs have received partial funding, LaunchBox is the first to be fully funded.

According to the university, the extra money for LaunchBox, which has been renamed “Happy Valley LaunchBox, powered by PNC Bank,” will provide operational funding to the innovation hub each year, ensuring that it continues to spark economic development and support entrepreneurship in perpetuity.

Barron said Pittsburgh-based PNC’s gift “marks a turning point for the Invent Penn State initiative and our innovation hubs, because their gift will encourage additional supporters to come forward.”

When PNC Bank stepped forward to accept Barron’s $1 million matching gift challenge, the two teams worked out the agreement, which included naming rights. LaunchBox staff and Invent Penn State marketing staff worked with PNC executives and team members to identify opportunities for PNC’s involvement on an ongoing basis — for example, through participation in the mentorship program.

The $1 million gift that’s being matched by the university will create a $2 million endowment that will provide funding support to operate Happy Valley LaunchBox each year. The company views that support as part of its commitment to community and service, and their headquarters’ close proximity to Penn State provides opportunities for staff to participate very directly.

“PNC Bank is engaging with the Invent Penn State initiative to drive economic development in Happy Valley,” says Jim Hoehn, PNC regional president for Central Pennsylvania. “We have already begun working with start-ups at Happy Valley LaunchBox, and look forward to seeing the impact our relationship will have in the future.”

A detailed article on the fundraising challenge appears in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and get the full article, along with hundreds of other success strategies for TTOs in the publication’s online archive, CLICK HERE.

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Singapore-based student-run start-up fund makes its first investment


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

Protégé Ventures, a student-run fund supporting university start-ups across Singapore, has announced its first investment. continue reading »

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Guidebook offers blueprint for commercializing healthcare innovations


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

Many physicians and healthcare workers have valuable ideas for improving patient care, but the majority of these innovative ideas for new technologies never make it to market. Instead, many are sidetracked by the pressures of patient care and practice management or sabotaged by legal, financial and marketing complexities that are part of the innovation process.

The guidebook Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Healthcare Sector: From Idea to Funding to Launch offers proven strategies and real-world guidance for turning these new ideas into real-world products, patents, and profits. It combines clinical skills and business savvy with step-by-step guidance for moving beyond the generation of an idea to the creation of a business plan, the development of a proposal, and testing and evaluating a product.

Authored by Luis Pareras, MD, PhD, MBA, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Barcelona Medical Association, this 462-page reference provides a clear road map for nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit among clinical innovators and applying proven business principles to fast-track new ideas into the marketplace. For more information, CLICK HERE >>

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Rice University is turning an old Sears building into a $100M tech start-up hub


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

Rice University plans to turn a retired Sears building into a bustling innovation center for tech start-ups in a bid to jump start the area’s innovation ecosystem. continue reading »

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Tel Aviv U launches university start-up fund, the first of its kind in Israel


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

Tel Aviv University is launching an early-stage start-up venture fund, the first of its kind to be created by an Israeli university. continue reading »

The Mind the Gap: University Student Venture Fund Report is the first-ever, comprehensive look at student venture funding programs at leading universities. CLICK HERE for details.

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Comings and goings


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 18th, 2018

Duke University has selected Jon Fjeld, a mentor for technology entrepreneurs, to serve as interim director of the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (Duke I&E). continue reading »

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LLCs can be smart for university start-ups, but only if you know the risks


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 11th, 2018

Faculty start-ups have a few different options when it comes to forming a corporation, and the limited liability corporation (LLC) can be appealing. It has favorable aspects for entrepreneurs and it can be smart for universities that wish to take equity in the company, but there are potential complications to consider before making a decision.

University faculty are not likely to be up on the ins and outs of corporate structures, so tech transfer leaders should be ready to explain the basics and help walk them through the decision making process, says Christopher F. Wright, JD, shareholder with the McCausland Keen & Buckman law firm in Devon, PA. And from the university’s perspective, he stresses, that decision has critical implications that must be thought through in each case.

“It’s really easy for a licensing officer to forget to look at whether this start-up is going to be an LLC or a C-corporation. It’s going to cause significant differences in how that licensing deal is done, so it’s a matter to address up front,” he says. “They don’t think through the tax issues at a macro level. That ball gets dropped a lot.”

Part of the decision will come down to the appetite of the university administration for taking an equity role in start-ups versus only being a licensor, says K. Lance Anderson, JD, an attorney with the Dickinson Wright law firm in Austin, TX, who previously directed the TTO at Texas Tech University. Some universities will settle on a hybrid in which they license the intellectual property but also hold equity in the start-up.

“That sounds good but sometimes it creates additional complexities. Taking a position where you’re a licensor and a shareholder in an LLC means there are inherent conflicts, a potential misalignment of interests. On one hand you’re holding rights on which you can assert a default in the company, but that’s a company in which you’re a partner. You’re kind of fighting against yourself at some point.”

Unlike a straight license agreement, taking an equity position in a start-up also can create a “significant financial interest,” a legal term that can affect the integrity of ongoing research, Anderson notes. “That is a manageable conflict of interest, but in some instances and especially when human subjects are involved, that conflict can be such that you have a real issue,” he cautions. “This can come down to the goals of the administration and the university. Do they feel strongly enough about supporting entrepreneurial efforts to effectively manage these issues?”

Much of the consideration when determining start-up structure from a TTO perspective needs to be tax-driven, Anderson says. When starting any company and looking at the entity choices, the tax considerations are some of the first to consider because they can drive you in one direction or another, he says

There are potential tax benefits as well as risks, but it would be a mistake to assume that an LLC is the right decision for all start-ups, Wright says. In some cases, for example, that structure would complicate the university’s relationship with the business or be detrimental to the university.

“The trend for a number of years has been to do more start-ups as LLCs because you have one level of taxation, private investors may be able to use the passive losses, and a whole host of other reasons,” Wright says. “But most universities have not considered some of the peculiarities for them with doing equity licenses with LLCs rather than a traditional C-corporation. A lot of universities have stepped into an LLC without thinking things through.”

A detailed article on business structure for university start-ups appears in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s nearly 11-year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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UCB acquires Duke gene therapy start-up for up to $30M


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 11th, 2018

Belgium-based biopharma giant UCB has acquired a Duke University start-up for up to $30 million. continue reading »

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