Considerations for a Startup

SBTDC’s “SBIR/STTR Program Overview ”
SBIR/STTR information:
If an A&T faculty member is a sub-contractor on a small business’s SBIR/STTR, it is necessary to work with the Office of Sponsored Programs to route the sub-contracting proposal through campus approvals.

A startup is a new business formed to commercialize a technology. A startup is an alternative to licensing technology to an established business. The Office of IP Development and Commercialization will ultimately identify the most appropriate licensing partner for university technology.

Considerations for a startup company:

  • What is the development risk? (often established companies are unwilling to take a lot of risk)
  • Is there a potential for multiple products or services from the same technology? (A company generally cannot survive only on one product)
  • Is there a sufficiently large competitive advantage?
  • Is there a sufficiently large target market?
  • Is there potential for revenues sufficient to sustain and grow a company?

Faculty expertise does NOT generally include startup management. Faculty involvement of any kind in a startup must be disclosed and managed via a conflict of interest statement. Faculty typically serve as technology consultants, advisors, or in some other technical developmental capacity. The faculty role is often suggested by investors and the startup management team, based on the inventor’s expertise and interests. As the company matures and additional investment is required, the inventor’s role may change. Student inventors and post-docs may choose to join the start-up upon graduation but rarely have the experience or business skills to serve as the company’s sole management.

University employees may start their own companies, but must consider potential real/perceived conflicts of interest  and discuss their plans with their supervisor and/or Office of Research Compliance & Ethics as appropriate.