Tech Transfer Central

Technology Transfer Tactics, January 2023


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the January 2023 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 17, No. 1, January 2023

  • Term sheet template for life science deals aims to reduce bickering and hasten license negotiations. A term sheet template for life science licensing deals developed by a group of prominent university tech transfer programs, venture capital firms, and attorneys could help eliminate much of the haggling over routine issues and establish a baseline of what is typical or most commonly found in license agreements.
  • AUTM EDI toolkit suggests de-identification for grants, disclosures, job applicants. It’s common knowledge at this point that women and minority populations are vastly under-represented when it comes to the STEM professions, inventive activity, and even in tech transfer itself. There’s plenty of data to show that these groups participate in tech fields and are included in patents at far lower rates than their relative numbers. THe AUTM EDI toolkit hopes to help change that.
  • Hopkins TTO encourages fast fails with “5 Vs” system of tech assessment. You’re driving a van full of your colleagues down the highway and take what you think is the right exit. But soon, your passengers provide feedback that the landscape is all wrong. You’ve made an error and taken a wrong turn. Do you continue down that road or turn back to find the right exit? Of course, you turn back as quickly as possible. A quick U-turn is an example of a “fast fail.”
  • Lassonde for Life taps into alumni for entrepreneurial energy. Having one of the top student entrepreneurship programs in the country is a great accomplishment. All too often, however, when the students graduate, the university is no longer a resource for them, and all that entrepreneurial energy dissipates. But what if you could harness entrepreneurial talent and energy and meter it out as needed over the coming decades?
  • New start-up support organizations focus efforts on STEM-related fields. Technology commercialization already is a major focus at both the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Harvard University. Yet, in recent months, these institutions announced new commercialization initiatives focused on STEM areas that will operate separate from existing TTOs.

Posted January 13th, 2023

Technology Transfer Tactics, December 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, December 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the December 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 12, December 2022

  • As litigation funding gains acceptance, universities may seek more infringement cases. More universities are taking advantage of litigation funding for patent infringement cases, even as there are growing questions about how unfavorably courts and others might view this strategy.
  • Vanderbilt’s ‘peer-to-peer’ Innovation Ambassadors puts faculty on TTO team. Vanderbilt University has launched what it calls the Innovation Ambassadors program — a volunteer initiative in which each department has a faculty member who serves as a liaison between researchers and innovation programs across campus. At the heart of the program is “peer to peer counseling and advising,” says Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor, who heads up the Center for Technology Transfer & Commercialization.
  • At the big football game, BYU and Notre Dame start-ups score with investors. The University of Notre Dame football team headed to Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium this past October for its 2022 Shamrock Series game against BYU. Since 2009, this beloved series has brought the home football game experience to a neutral location and acts as a bowl game of sorts for players and fans. This year’s game had a little twist: it also served as a venue for giving start-ups from the two schools some great exposure.
  • FTO analysis: A prudent step to mitigate patent infringement liability. For many TTOs, conducting a freedom-to-operate analysis to ensure a clear path to commercialization is an expensive proposition that is not a regular part of their IP-related due diligence. But in many cases it should be, and neglecting an FTO analysis can cost you in the long run. In a classic “penny wise, pound foolish” calculation, TTOs that overlook this fundamental safeguard could find themselves doing damage control.
  • Milestone-driven funding for early technologies gets a DEI twist at Mount Sinai. When it comes to encouraging diversity in tech transfer activity, sometimes it seems like there’s more talk than action – but not for Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP), which is putting its money where its mouth is.
  • CROs gaining bigger role in TTOs’ life science commercialization plans. In life sciences commercialization, tech transfer offices have become much more willing to bring drug candidates further forward to de-risk the IP for potential licensees, while drug-focused university start-ups also face hurdles in the development process that can make or break their futures. For both those reasons, contract research organizations (CROs) are becoming a bigger, and often critical, TTO partner.

Posted December 14th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, November 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, November 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the November 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 11, November 2022

  • CU Boulder paves the way for start-ups using ‘Licensing with EASE®’ model. Since launching its Licensing with EASE® express agreement for start-up entrepreneurs in 2018, CU Boulder has seen its number of startups “increase dramatically,” according to Brynmor Rees, associate vice chancellor for research & innovation and managing director of Venture Partners.
  • Tech transfer veterans apply their lessons learned to build Baptist Health Innovations. Baptist Health South Florida is waist-deep in the process of transforming from its roots as a community hospital to an academic medical center with the addition of translational research and innovation functions, and one the organization’s first moves to ramp up its commercialization activity was bringing on board two seasoned technology transfer professionals:.
  • To boost tech transfer, Yale ups royalty shares for faculty, labs, departments. Yale University is changing its patent royalty sharing practices to more generously distribute net income generated from new technologies to the originating researchers, as well as their academic units and schools.
  • U Arkansas commercialization retreat promotes networking as part of faculty outreach. Faculty outreach and engagement remain top of mind for most TTOs, so when new ways of doing things appear in this arena, it’s definitely a sharing moment. The University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in collaboration with the Office of Technology Ventures, has organized and hosted three-day retreats focused on research commercialization for more than 10 years, and tech transfer leaders there say it’s a great way to connect people from all over the state.
  • TTO marketing tactics: What works, what doesn’t. Technology Transfer Tactics conducted a mini-survey of marketers and leaders in technology transfer offices, looking for their best advice on the tactics that worked exceptionally well for them, along with tactics to avoid spending their limit time and marketing bandwidth on.
  • Auburn U’s new TTO brand depicts corporate image over academic. It’s always interesting when a TTO or otherwise titled commercialization office does a re-branding that involves more than just changing a sign on the door. In the case of Auburn University’s technology transfer unit, the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization (IAC) now touts a new moniker with a very commercial rather than academic feel — the Intellectual Property Exchange (aka the IP Exchange or IPX).

Posted November 16th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, October 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, October 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the October 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 10, October 2022

Special bonus: Study on resource allocation in TTOs

A Preliminary Study of the Impact of Resource Allocation on Licensing Outcomes of Academic Institutions in the United States, contributed by tech transfer veteran Arundeep Pradhan and co-authors from his consulting firm Apio Innovation Transfer as well as Portland State University, offers fascinating insights and data on a range of resource allocation issues, particularly staffing and legal expense, and their correlation to licensing activity.

The study offers a useful look at how allocation of staff and budget dollars may affect the results of your licensing efforts, and provides some unique data points to consider and compare to your own office. We hope you benefit from this “extra” from Technology Transfer Tactics and Apio. 

  • Avoid information silos to lessen the pain of TTO staff turnover. Staff turnover in a tech transfer program can create cascading problems that reach far beyond the immediate lack of talent when it involves employees who are managing active files, pursuing licensees, working with companies, and helping researchers move their inventions toward commercialization.
  • Navigating the IP trail when a faculty member leaves. While universities might want to keep their best researchers forever, it’s a fact of life for TTOs that inventors often leave for greener pastures.
  • USF’s online portal eases disclosures, aids transparency, and provides marketing boost. A new online licensing portal just introduced by the TTO at the University of South Florida has been welcomed by faculty, as it enhances the efficiency of the disclosure process and also offers them real-time updates on the status of their inventions. “The feedback so far is that faculty really like it,” says Michele Tyrpak, JD, USF’s director of technology engagement and commercialization.
  • NCATS breaks the mold: Case studies of unique technology transfer mechanisms. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a unique biomedical institution that is both a granting institution administered by our extramural program and a research enterprise fueled by our Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation (DPI). Very few institutions have both the funding to accomplish health initiatives through grants and contracts, as well as the internal scientific expertise to conduct original research themselves.
  • TTO uses targeted webinars to educate faculty innovators. Although no one would argue that the world is a better place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a few unexpected positives, particularly in new ways of communicating necessitated by lack of in-person meetings. In many cases these changes, implemented out of necessity, have been adopted into regular practice even as the world has veered back toward normalcy. The University of Kentucky (UK) Office of Technology Commercialization’s (OTC) continuation of an educational outreach program they started when they were unable to hold in-person learning opportunities for their faculty is a perfect case in point.

Posted October 14th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, September 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, September 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the September 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 9, September 2022

  • Strategies for managing underperforming licensees: Enforcer, counselor, or both? It happens to every TTO once in a while. You licensed patented technology to a company that just isn’t making enough progress, so your original expectations for licensing revenue, attainment of milestones, and associated fees aren’t met.
  • Founders Pledge programs: An overlooked opportunity for TTO-directed giving? Founders Pledge programs, through which start-up founders sign commitments to “give back” to their alma maters following some future exit or other financial windfall, have been around for more than 20 years but appear to have experienced a “growth spurt” among U.S. universities since 2013, when UC Berkeley launched a program that has been modeled by many other institutions. In fact, Imperial College London just initiated a program it claims to be the first in the U.K., and universities in Australia and Canada have also joined the bandwagon.
  • Venture studio model gaining traction as nurturer of university start-ups. Universities have become rather prolific start-up factories, but too few of these new ventures end up scaling into thriving businesses. In a 2020 paper written by Brigham Young University professors and published in Nature Biotechnology, 40% of the most recently formed university-licensed start-ups from the Top 50 patent producing universities never grew or added jobs, yet remained “active” for long periods of time.
  • John Hopkins Inventor’s Guide — a best practice roadmap to resources for faculty. Most TTOs have online access to information or a written summary to help their inventors navigate the ins and outs of how to go about getting an invention commercialized, but John Hopkins University has really knocked it out of the park with their comprehensive “Inventor’s Guide.” And it’s not just a valuable educational resource, it’s also a way to increase the number of faculty working with the TTO to ultimately get more inventions commercialized and start-ups formed.
  • Matchmaking Program looks to boost start-up activity and economic development. When the Wichita Entrepreneurship Coalition (ICT-EC) was awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for its “Build to Scale” venture program, there were a few entities that benefited – including the Office of Tech Transfer and Commercialization at Wichita State University (WSU).

Posted September 14th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, August 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the August 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 8, August 2022

  • TTO satisfaction surveys can bring critical improvements in faculty service. Two tech transfer programs surveying the faculty they interact with to assess customer satisfaction and obtain valuable feedback are both reporting good results in gathering information that has helped them improve their operations, though they use very different survey instruments and approaches.
  • U-M Startup Pipeline report helps raise early-stage investment capital. In an effort to reach investors in a more targeted way, the University of Michigan’s Innovation Partnerships Ventures team has created the U-M Startup Pipeline, a quarterly report that is shared with nearly 800 investors (some international), including strategic corporations. The team has worked with Wellspring Sophia to curate the start-ups.
  • Study points to technology maturity level as key to successful licensing. A minimum technology maturity level may be necessary for successful commercialization in some situations, according to research that could influence how tech transfer programs prioritize and de-risk their IP.
  • Guest Commentary: Seven steps to increase patent inventorship equity. It’s no secret that women are underrepresented as patent inventors in the United States. Institutional structures and biases, including patent education gaps, status hierarchy, and monetary incentives, contribute to the gender patent gap. Unfair inventorship attribution decisions create cumulative disadvantages in employment, tenure, and status. TTOs can help do something about it.
  • Stanford’s retreats help TTO staff identify and address issues, each other. Many corporations regularly hold department and unit retreats for any number of reasons — from helping the members of the staff improve their communications and ability to work together, to addressing key issues of the day. So, if major companies find them valuable, why not university TTOs?
  • “Work from Purdue” program helps build start-up ecosystem. For universities launching start-ups in “flyover country,” without an ecosystem to support those new ventures, keeping the new companies in the area can be a tough proposition.

Posted August 11th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, July 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, July 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the July 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 7, July 2022

  • TTOs face “impossible” challenge in making accurate financial projections. Okay, so you signed “X” number of licenses last year for a total of “X” dollars. How many will you sign this year, or next, and how much revenue with they produce? What about your start-ups? How many will be formed this year? How many will exit in, say, five years? What about upfront fees? Patent reimbursements?
  • Drive a collaborative culture with non-monetary TTO metrics. While metrics enable technology transfer offices to define and track progress toward performance goals, many of those metrics are very rigid, says Michael Dixon, PhD, president and CEO of UNeMed, the tech transfer and commercialization office for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “It’s worth taking a step back and looking at the softer metrics that help us measure and then develop our collaborative culture.”
  • Drive for innovation education expected to boost tech transfer at Mass General Brigham. In most TTOs, commercialization training is typically offered only to those researchers, faculty, or clinicians who express an interest and have an idea for creating a product or company. While that’s fine, what if you could provide that same training to essentially the entire organization so everyone – particularly potential inventors and innovators – had a baseline knowledge of what it takes to bring an idea to the marketplace? At Mass General Brigham (MGB) Hospital, that’s exactly what is now happening, and leaders there hope it pays off in a significant boost to commercialization activity.
  • Avoiding pitfalls from ‘prophetic’ language in marketing summaries. Nearly everyone who’s seen or heard financial advertising is familiar with the phrase: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Or in the stock market, it might be “read the prospectus before you invest.” In fact, these common cautions have become almost clichéd.
  • Pitch Prep helps Northwestern student start-up competition increase its value. While there’s nothing new about student start-up competitions, Northwestern University has figured out how to add a unique twist to theirs by offering semifinalists “Pitch Prep,” an intensive program designed to hone pitching skills and prepare student entrepreneurs for the rough and tumble world of start-up venture funding.

Posted July 13th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, June 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, June 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the June 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 6, June 2022

  • Rogue EIRs and mentors can bring trouble, need limits and guardrails. Entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors play important roles in guiding university start-ups, but the same independent streak responsible for their success can sometimes lead them to do things that are contrary to the university’s policies or expectations. Experts say tech transfer programs need to establish guidelines and guardrails to keep EIRs in their lane.
  • Don’t let “dead equity” complicate a cap table and stymie start-up growth. “Dead equity” can be a major red flag when potential investors look at a university start-up’s cap table, prompting concerns about whether founders are still contributing to the company or just along for the ride.
  • $3 million infusion for gap funding promises a surge in Cornell’s innovation pipeline. Ignite, Cornell University’s gap funding series, will expand its innovation pipeline in the coming years using a $3 million annual infusion of funding from the provost’s office and a handsome donation from alum Peggy J. Koenig, chair of the private equity firm Abry Partners.
  • Emory TTO’s innovation awards: A centerpiece of campus culture-building. Earlier this spring, staffers at Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer in Atlanta, GA, breathed a sigh of relief as they held the Annual Celebration of Technology and Innovation at the Emory Conference Center.
  • Harvard and VC partner on internships focused on underrepresented. Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development is going beyond its typical responsibilities to help boost diversity in innovation with a targeted internship program in partnership with a local VC.

Posted June 15th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, May 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, May 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the May 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 5, May 2022

  • NFTs and NILs hit tech transfer: Some opportunity, some hype. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) commodities are driving a digital marketplace of everything from art to memes and athlete images, and now university tech transfer programs are getting involved with promoting their institutions and athletes — and their trademarks and other IP. It’s a brave new world and the trailblazers are finding out what it takes to work in this arena.
  • Treat those ‘undercooked’ disclosures with TLC and reap benefits later. Tech transfer pros are expert in handling disclosures and navigating them through the various paths to commercialization. But what about innovations whose disclosures clearly indicate they are not yet ‘ready for prime time’ — what’s the best way to handle them?
  • AUTM 2022 coverage: In royalty distribution matters, expect the unexpected. Listening to a group of tech transfer operations staff filling a small conference room at the recent AUTM annual meeting in New Orleans for a session on royalty distribution, you might wonder whether these professionals had degrees in law, business, math, science, accounting, or military strategy — or all of the above.
  • WiSys creates a VentureHome for entrepreneurs at smaller campuses. WiSys VentureHome. It may sound like a new GPS system, but it’s actually a natural extension of a core principle known as “the Wisconsin Idea” — shared by the University of Wisconsin (UW) System and WiSys — that what happens on UW campuses should enhance people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the campus.
  • ‘Dare to Discover’ campaign at U Iowa creates buzz for research and tech transfer. TTOs looking for a new and impactful way to boost their brand in the community and generate goodwill among their early career researchers may want to take a page — or a banner — from the University of Iowa’s “Dare to Discover” campaign.
  • OIG clarifies anti-kickback rules for MD inventors with start-up equity. A recent advisory opinion from the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) represents good news for physician inventors and the start-ups in which they have received ownership interests.

Posted May 16th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, April 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the April 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 4, April 2022

  • Ohio State’s scoring system guides TTO in identifying and mitigating risk. A detailed risk management tracking and scoring system, like the one implemented at The Ohio State University two years ago, “is an essential activity for any TTO,” asserts Kevin Taylor, associate vice president for technology commercialization there. The OSU system, used not only to measure risk but also to show the path towards mitigation of those risks, “has been invaluable,” he says. “It has empowered us, empowered the institution, and built confidence in our ability to manage risk.”
  • Two new university venture funds look to change the start-up landscape. The University of Washington, a public, PAC-12 research ‘powerhouse,’ has about 60,000 total students with campuses in Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma. Concordia University is a faith-based school owned by the Lutheran Church located in Mequon, WI, with about 5,000 enrolled students. And yet these schools, so totally unalike, have both started venture funds within the past year to help start-ups cross the legendary “Valley of Death” that claims so many of them before they get a chance to grow.
  • How U Missouri’s TTO focuses on improvement. When Lisa Lorenzen moved to the University of Missouri nearly three years ago from a similar job at Iowa State University, she brought a wealth of experience that she was determined to put to good use.
  • UMSL’s DEI accelerator is ‘beacon of hope’ for under-represented founders. TTOs have become heavily focused on incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles into their organizations, looking to move the needle on inventorship and entrepreneurship among under-represented populations. But how the talk about DEI gets translated into practice is still a work in progress for many universities.
  • CU Boulder winds up hyper-accelerator program, shares lessons learned. Earlier this year, officials at the University of Colorado Boulder announced seven teams that completed its Pandemic Hyper-Accelerator for Science and Technology (PHAST) program, which was designed to leverage state and federal funding made available to identify and fund start-ups that address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the pandemic.

Posted April 15th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, March 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, March 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the March 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 3, March 2022

  • ‘Great Resignation’ hits TTOs with staff shortages, changes to recruiting. Like employers all over the country, tech transfer programs are struggling with staffing shortages caused by what some have called the Great Resignation, the recent trend in which people are leaving their jobs in search of better lifestyles and more money, with employers finding it difficult to replace them.
  • AUTM 2022: Heard in the Halls. The 2022 AUTM annual meeting in New Orleans marked the first time many tech transfer professionals could schmooze in person since the pandemic shut down most if not all face-to-face events, and there was a clear sense of relief among the more than 1,000 attendees gathered there just as Mardis Gras was about to kick into high gear.
  • USF opens up its shelves of available IP to local entrepreneurs. Every research institution has intellectual property that is not being developed or marketed for one reason or another, and it can sit on a shelf for many years and in time lose any value it may have once held. But the University of South Florida is doing something about it.
  • Baylor partners with VC to boost commercialization. In another instance of the growing trend of university TTOs collaborating with third parties to enhance their commercialization efforts, Baylor University and VC firm Waco Ventures (WAVE) are partnering in what they call the Lab-to-Market Collaborative (L2M). The collaboration has already been involved in the launch of three start-ups.
  • Commercialization Engine at Notre Dame grows start-ups with internal de-risking. The Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration (IDEA) Center at The University of Notre Dame isn’t your typical technology transfer office. In addition to student entrepreneurship programs and competitions and an innovation lab, it offers the Commercialization Engine.
  • Use of LinkedIn helps transform tech portal into marketing resource. Existing and potential industry partners of Yeda Technology Transfer of Weizmann Institute in Israel recently received a LinkedIn message from Yeda’s marketing team inviting them to join its Members portal. Many TTOs use portals to provide a doorway to interested parties, but thanks to an innovative method at Yeda, the typically passive portal approach becomes active marketing as these potential industry partners are identified and contacted more swiftly and with much greater volume than ever before.

Posted March 17th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, February 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the February 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

If you are already a current subscriber click here to log in and access your issue.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 2, February 2022

  • UMB New Venture Group’s model succeeds in boosting region’s start-up ecosystem. For TTOs in less than vibrant regions of the country for venture capital investments, getting across the Valley of Death can be treacherous, and often deadly without adequate funding. And that’s particularly true for biotech start-ups and others with a long development timeline dependent on significant financial backing, even in the early stages.
  • Standing to sue can be roadblock to pursuing patent infringement claims. License agreements may not always include an adequate transfer of rights that allows the licensee standing to pursue a patent infringement case without joining the university itself in the suit, and a recent court decision shows how important that can be in protecting your IP.
  • Column: As venture deal terms narrow, TTOs should focus on investor quality. Universities — via their tech transfer offices — often receive equity as partial consideration for technologies they license to start-ups. Most of these ventures will raise multiple rounds of financing. As relatively small, junior shareholders, TTOs typically are deal term “takers” with limited ability to impact the deal terms of follow-on rounds. A recent survey of venture deal terms strongly suggests that in most cases this is not a liability, as the remarkable commonality of deal terms reflects limited negotiability in any case.
  • How one university established a way of monitoring IP leakage. Leakage of intellectual property is not usually considered a major issue for most universities, but the prospect of its consequences is compelling enough that many may wonder about it and ponder how to deal with it.
  • NJIT targets entrepreneur gap with a series of diversity-focused programs. While most university TTOs have an ample supply of viable technologies in their intellectual property portfolio to power numerous start-ups, finding entrepreneurial leads often keeps start-up development from reaching its full potential.

Posted February 14th, 2022