Tech Transfer eNews Blog
University-Industry Engagement Advisor

University start-ups gain global reach without leaving home


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

Start-up companies that want to do business internationally often find themselves in a Catch-22. They know they must build contacts in overseas markets, but they don’t have time or money to travel the world. Yet strong international contacts could be the fuel that pushes some start-ups over the edge to long-term success.

For example, Vifant LLC has identified a potential market for their product in Europe and developing countries that far exceeds the market in the U.S. Having the ability to initially launch this product internationally would enable Vifant to be more successful than if they launched only in the U.S.

The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and the University City Science Center have teamed up to help companies like Vifant to launch more quickly into the international market. They are using a $500,000 “i6 Challenge” grant from the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program to establish the Global Startup Accelerator (GSA) in Philadelphia. The six-month program provides mentors for the start-up companies, teaches them how to effectively pitch their companies to non-U.S. investors and collaborators, and introduces them to the international community in Philadelphia.

There are 16 early-stage life science, medical device, and health companies enrolled in GSA’s first cohort. These companies will focus on opportunities in the European market and will present to potential investors at the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia in June. Cohort 2 will be comprised of up to 25 technology companies in such areas as Medtech, Edtech, Fintech, smart cities and mobile health. These companies will focus on entry into the Indian marketplace and will present to investors with an international focus.

The first cohort of companies began the program in January, and selection for the second cohort will start in September 2019. By 2022, the anticipated impact of the GSA is expected to include 240 direct new jobs, $6 million in new foreign investments, and $12 million in new follow on investments.

The GSA is providing much-needed education about doing business outside of the U.S. “Very few researchers who start companies are aware of the plethora of resources available to them outside of the United States,” says Karina Sotnik, director of business incubation and accelerator programs at the Science Center, who also previously worked in the tech transfer office at the University of Pennsylvania. “I think every company in this day and age should look to a global market. There are funding opportunities available in Europe that are not available [here].”

A detailed article on the Global Startup Accelerator appears in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, as well as the publication’s subscriber-only archive filled with 12 years of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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McMaster U start-up lands $105 million investment to develop cancer treatments


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

A start-up from McMaster University in Canada has landed a US$105 million investment to bring new treatments for cancer to market. continue reading »

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Overcoming Joint IP Ownership Challenges in University Research Partnerships


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

In a perfect world, universities would enjoy collaborating on research projects with a myriad of partners, costs would be shared fairly among partners, everyone would agree on IP ownership, and they would live happily ever after. But the real world is far from perfect, and it’s critical that your university’s IP rights are carefully defined and protected when working with other schools, corporations, and other partners. The cost of inadequate preparation and contractual protection can be huge, from hefty litigation costs to invalid patents or loss of IP, not to mention damage to important relationships.

That’s why Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division is teaming up with Rodney Sparks, JD, PhD, from the University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group, to discuss how to protect your ownership stake, remain a good research partner, and deal with conflicts when they arise. Please join us on April 25th for this practical and timely webinar: Overcoming Joint IP Ownership Challenges in University Research Partnerships. For complete program details and to register, CLICK HERE.

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Take a quick video tour of our All-Access Pass, offering anytime access to nearly 400 distance learning programs and a huge archive of best practices in tech transfer and research commercialization. Just CLICK HERE.

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Cornell launches new program to accelerate veterinary medicine to market


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has launched a program to accelerate research and engage with businesses to create new solutions in animal health care. continue reading »

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UW-Madison’s new website to help get academic entrepreneurs off the ground


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

The University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison has launched a new website to help faculty, staff and students who want to take their innovations to the marketplace. continue reading »

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U of Michigan spinoff snags $11.5M investment to develop technology that predicts change in vital signs


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

A University of Michigan (U-M) start-up has secured a $11.5 million Series A investment to commercialize a technology that predicts instability before typical vital signs point to trouble. continue reading »

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Reference offers full-text biotech license agreements for benchmarking, market comparables


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

Valuation, royalty rate, and other deal term benchmarks are vital tools when it comes to negotiating license agreements in the biotech industry. But specific contract details and market comparables are hard to come by, and the research required is time-consuming at best.

In the Royalty Rates in Biotech: BVR’s Guide to Full-Text Licensing Agreements, we’ve gathered over 500 pages of full-text copies of actual licensing agreements in the biotech industry. These hard-to-find agreements provide valuable guidance for valuing your IP, setting royalty rates, arriving at workable deal terms, and addressing a host of other complex issues in your agreements. With access to the complete licensing agreement text — many of which involve university licensors — you’ll have critical real-world data and templates to help ensure you receive optimum value for your valuable IP. The guide is filled with real-deal information and comprehensive transaction details. For complete details or to order, CLICK HERE.

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U of Texas Health Science Center to open accelerator to commercialize early stage research


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

The University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at San Antonio is launching an accelerator for researchers who want to start companies around their inventions. continue reading »

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Queen’s U start-up crowdfunds to advance its lip reading technology


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 10th, 2019

A start-up from Queen’s University in Belfast has completed a successful round of seed funding to advance a technology that can decipher speech from the movement of a user’s lips. continue reading »

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U of Waterloo incubator makes shift from grant-sponsored program to post-money SAFEs


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2019

Velocity, The University of Waterloo’s start-up incubator, is introducing a major change in the way it will be funding its pitch competitions. Ever since they were established in 2011, the three competitions held annually offered the four winners grants of $25,000 each. Now, Velocity will be using a model based on the Y Combinator’s post-money SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) and is seeking to raise more than $1 million for an investment fund slated to launch this month. Each future winner will receive $50,000 — as an equity investment.

With three pitch competitions a year each paying out four prizes, Velocity has been paying out more than $300,000 per year in grants. This new investment fund will replace all those grants.

“We are moving from a grant competition with no stake in the company to one with an equity component,” explains Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “We’ve run the competitions for seven years with 91 companies receiving a $25,000 check. There’s a lot of data on how they’ve been doing. We’ve also been looking at the funding sources available to us; we have very successful entrepreneurs connected to us.”

In 2011, he notes, the thesis that recent grad-founded start-ups could see greater than a market-expected average for success was not defensible — nor was the thesis that such a fund would have positive returns. “Today we can look at those start-ups and make a really different case,” Shah asserts. “It is not as high risk [as one might have expected].”

For the cohort of start-ups that won grants in the pitch competitions between 2011 and 2013, hypothetical equity investments would have earned 57% annualized returns, according to Velocity.

In addition, he says, the new model offers the possibility of raising more funds, “as well as [impacting] the total scope of what we’ll be able to do with our start-up incubator.” Before, he explains, there was a fixed amount of dollars for prizes. “Now we have that amount plus what we’re able to attract in a private sector fund,” says Shah. “The total impact is larger because of the diversity of our ability to attract capital.”

A detailed article on Velocity’s shift to post-money SAFE investments in its start-ups appears in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the publication’s 12-year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

Volumes 1 and 2 of Best Practices at University-Linked Business Incubators and Accelerators: Cases Studies 2018 are now available at a special discounted rate . For complete details, CLICK HERE.

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Critical fix to America’s patent system may be in the offing


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2019

An IP Watchdog post by patent law expert Gene Quinn offers some optimism for patentees, noting that legislative changes are likely coming that could reverse a 12-year-long trend that has served to weaken the patent system beyond recognition. In particular, the problem – and the potential solutions – revolve around Section 101, Quinn says. continue reading »

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TOMORROW: Preventing Legal Disputes with Faculty Start-Ups: Drafting Agreements that Avoid Future Conflicts


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 2nd, 2019

Every tech transfer office knows its role is largely one of service to faculty, assisting researchers in moving their innovations through the commercialization pipeline. Typically, this means the researcher sees the TTO as an ally and advisor, but the feelings of “we’re in this together” can quickly turn sour when it comes time to negotiate licensing terms or the university’s equity stake in the start-up. And it can get downright nasty when things get real in term of money, leadership, control, and exit.

Many universities rely on boilerplate contracts for ease, quickness, and transparency, but start-ups are as unique as the inventions they are founded upon. And, while some terms and conditions are prime for cut-and-paste, this overall approach brings great risk of misunderstandings that can lead to bad blood and costly litigation. That’s why Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division is teaming up tomorrow, April 4, with K. Lance Anderson, attorney with Dickinson Wright PLLC, for this important webinar: Preventing Legal Disputes with Faculty Start-Ups: Drafting Agreements that Avoid Future Conflicts.

For complete program details or to register, CLICK HERE.

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