Tech Transfer Central

Break Down the Barriers to VC Funding for University Start-ups

Format: On-Demand Video/Transcript, or DVD
Originally presented: June 28, 2011

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Price: $197
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If you believe some of the alarming stories about venture capital trends, you might think the entire industry has shut down and every investment dollar is locked away, waiting for a better economic climate to emerge.


Although VC are surely more selective than ever before, there are now billions of dollars in VC funding that have been sitting on the sidelines – and scores of VC execs looking for their next great bet. And for university TTOs, the news is even better. According to many VC execs, the very fertile ground of university labs is exactly where they’re looking, recognizing the incredibly rich opportunities represented by academic research and the technologies being patented and nurtured into start-ups by university TTOs.


Times have changed, and so have VC criteria for “fundable” technologies and new businesses. To attract the attention (and open the wallets) of venture capitalists, you need to prove your worth in terms of product, business model, market size, market differentiation, scientific and executive team, financial terms, risk profile, and more. But with the right technology and the right pitch, IT CAN BE DONE. To guide your efforts, we’ve assembled a top-notch panel of experts for this dynamic program:

Break Down the Barriers to VC Funding
for University Start-ups

Here’s a brief look at what you’ll learn in this 90-minute, nuts-and-bolts session:

  • What VCs want to see, and why
  • How to avoid classic mistakes in your pitch
  • Financial rates of return you must meet
  • Positioning for co-investment
  • Special challenges of seed-stage deals
  • Determining when you’re ready for a VC versus earlier funding
  • How to “stage” your technology and sell the opportunity
  • Involving researchers in the process
  • Overcoming the TTO “reputation” problem
  • Structuring VC-friendly deals
  • How to open VC doors with relationship-building strategies

Your Expert Panel:

Gerard Eldering is Founder and President of InnovateTech Ventures, specializing in venture creation based on inventions licensed from universities and research institutions. Since the company’s founding in 2007, InnovateTech has supported numerous mid-Atlantic universities and co-founded three start-up companies including AlphaDetect and Trilumen. Gerard has been working in the technology transfer community for more than a decade and is passionate about the creation of professionally managed and funded start-up companies. Prior to launching InnovateTech, he founded and served as Director of the Technology Transfer Office at The MITRE Corporation. He is an MBA and a registered patent agent.

Bill St John is experienced in strategic intellectual property protection, licensing, university-industry relationships, corporate partnerships, strategic planning, due diligence, venture financing, corporate development and management of diverse teams and operations. Over the past 25 years, he has started and managed five (5) successful technology companies based on technology licensed or developed at university or government laboratories.  Exit strategies for these ventures included public markets, merger and acquisition. In addition to these positions, he has served as a Managing Director of an early-stage venture fund. Currently, Mr. St John serves as Managing Director of Sciencejump Advisory Services that provides a range of services to start-up companies, investors and various technology transfer offices.  He was a founder of and Reciprocal Sciences LLC. Previously, Mr. St. John served as Managing Director of the University Funds, a venture fund focused on funding the transition of promising university technology from the lab to commercialization. Prior to UFunds, Mr. St. John served as CEO of InCode BioPharmaceutics, Inc. InCode is engaged in the development of new drugs for trauma. As CEO, he completed 3 rounds of venture funding and positioned the company for clinical trials. Prior to InCode, Mr. St. John served as CEO of Scolr Parma/ Nutraceutix, Inc., after taking the company public and the stock value increased three-fold. Scolr developed controlled delivery drug dosage forms using advanced polymer chemistry. The Nutraceutix division operated a private label tablet and formulation plant. From 1984 – 1989 Mr. St. John served as President and CEO of Ecova Environmental, Inc. Ecova applied biotechnology, infrared physics and chemical engineering to the large-scale remediation of superfund Sites. Ecova developed the basis for the majority of bioremediation technology in use today. The company was sold to Amoco oil in 1989. From 1983 – 1998 Mr. St. John served as Chairman and President for BioTechniques Laboratories (BTL), Inc. BTL developed and manufactured veterinary & agricultural bio-products, sponsoring research in 20 universities and government labs. BTL achieved positive cash flow in its second year of operations. Mr. St. John holds a BS from Seattle University and an MS from Ohio State University. He currently serves on the Boards of InCode BioPharmaceutics, Inc. and numerous non-profits.

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