Tech Transfer Central
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Launch Your Own VC! Create Your Own Funding Vehicle For University Technologies

Format: MP3, CD, or PDF Transcript
Originally presented: August 26, 2009

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As early-stage investors become more and more choosy — if they’re investing at all these days — getting the backing you need to commercialize your promising technologies and fund your start-ups has become a tougher challenge — and too many innovations are dying on the vine or languishing while tech transfer officials “wait out” the current economic doldrums.

But a growing number of creative TTO directors are taking the bull by the horns, developing “out-of-the-box” financing strategies to ensure that high-potential technologies get a fair shake — and the resources they need — to reach commercial viability.

The University of Utah TCO has risen to this challenge — and you can too, when you adapt its proven strategies for building an internal funding mechanism that doesn’t rely on the whims of the outside VC and angel investor market. With its Kickstart start-up seed fund, and two additional funds in the works, the TCO leaders have taken matters into their own hands and created a solid funding foundation for university start-ups.

So you can learn from their experience and create your own “recession-proof” funding vehicle, we’ve engaged two U of Utah executives to give you an inside look at their strategies, successes, and problems encountered (and overcome) along the way. Listen to this revealing, powerful distance learning audio program:

Launch Your Own VC: Create Your Own Funding Vehicle for University Technologies

With this detailed, how-to session, you’ll hear Brian Cummings, Executive Director of the Technology Commercialization Office at the University of Utah and Assistant Vice President for Technology Ventures, and Gavin Christensen, Managing Director of Kickstart, show you how to “plant the seeds” needed to successfully launch your own VC fund. Here’s what they’ll cover:

  • The continuing need for early-stage capital in the global recession
  • The capital dilemma in creating a technology ecosystem
  • The urgency for universities to access capital
  • The University of Utah case study
  • Why the economics of a traditional seed fund don’t work
  • The need for a special partnership and how to nurture it
  • The value proposition of a seed fund for local venture capital
  • Creative seed fund structures that work
  • How to create a regional, scalable model

Your Expert Presenters

Brian Cummings is the Executive Director of the Technology Commercialization Office at the University of Utah and Assistant Vice President for Technology Ventures. In the two and a half years that he has been in this role, the office has produced record revenues and successfully started 51 new technology-based companies, 80% of which have received initial funding and beyond. Brian has started three companies in his entrepreneurial career, and his latest endeavor is a technology based start-up utilizing RFID. He is also President of a university-based personalized medicine company. Previously, Brian led the life science commercialization efforts at the University of Texas and prior to that was the Director of Business Development at Micro-Bac International.

Gavin Christensen worked in conjunction with co-founders Paul Ahlstrom and Dinesh Patel of vSpring and Brian Cummings of University of Utah to solidify and execute on a seed fund strategy that would help kick start the development of seed stage companies in the Mountain West. The result, Kickstart, officially launched in April, 2008. As Managing Director, Gavin is responsible for all aspects of managing the firm in addition to leading due diligence and investment decisions in conjunction with Kickstart’s Investment Committee. In addition to Kickstart, Gavin heads vSpring’s New Mexico office, where he is focused on funding companies in New Mexico’s technology-rich ecosystem. Gavin joined vSpring as an associate in 2003, left in 2005 to attend the Kellogg School of Management, and in 2007 he rejoined vSpring as a Principal. His efforts have had a significant impact on vSpring’s firm strategy and on the success of many of vSpring’s Fund I and II companies.

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