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U Georgia’s new start-up license offers speed and favorable terms in two-phase approach


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 14th, 2021

A detailed article on UGA’s new Georgia Startup License appears in the April issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, click here.  

The University of Georgia’s Innovation Gateway is offering a new “Georgia Startup License” combining technical assistance with a streamlined technology licensing process that offers preferred terms. But in a new twist on the express licensing concept, the start-ups must meet certain criteria to qualify for the deal.

Innovation Gateway, the technology transfer office of the Athens-based university, created the express licensing program to speed the transition of IP from the laboratory to the marketplace, says Tim Martin, MS, associate director of the Startup Program with Innovation Gateway.

Like other express style programs, the Georgia Startup License offers a more efficient path to licensing than the traditional approach, minimizing the time and cost of negotiating an agreement, Martin says. But not all start-ups can qualify, which helps to ensure the new ventures are built to last.

“Over the past four or five years we’ve had discussions around how to simplify and streamline the start-up license process between the tech transfer office and start-ups coming out of University of Georgia research,” Martin says. “We tried to figure out the best practices from universities around the country, and I had previous experience with one at the University of North Carolina. Through that process we came to the Georgia Startup License, which incorporates some aspects of the express terms of a streamlined licensing process but adds in a lot of analysis and requirements that the start-up must meet in order to have access to those preferred terms.”

Martin describes UGA’s approach as a middle ground between the standard negotiating process with full diligence on the company and a streamlined, no-questions-asked express license.

“It’s somewhere in the middle where you have the ability to have some impact on the trajectory of the company, to understand and help them based on what’s expected of start-up companies coming out of universities,” he says.

The Georgia Startup License is available to UGA inventors and those who hold equity in a start-up company involving UGA IP.

The license uses a two-phase approach, which Martin says is aimed at ensuring start-ups that benefit from the preferred licensing terms have achieved some external validation, such as grant funding or dilutive investment.

In Phase I, UGA’s tech transfer team helps the start-up evaluate its market and business strategies, identify potential shortcomings, and develop an action plan to improve its overall readiness and maturity, Marin says. Once Innovation Gateway and the start-up finalize an action plan, the Express Option agreement becomes available. If the start-up chooses to exercise this option agreement, it offers the benefit of excluding competitors from the patent rights of interest.

In Phase II, the start-up implements the action plan developed in Phase I. It also participates in the UGA I-Corps or other entrepreneurial training and programming, working toward accomplishing predefined milestones.

When those requirements are met, the start-up can access to the express license — a standardized, non-negotiable agreement containing favorable terms and simplified costs compared to a typical UGA licensing agreement. (More information the Georgia Startup License is available online here.)

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Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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