Commercialization via Start-up Company
Increasingly, at North American universities, faculty, staff and students are interested in seeing their research results reach the marketplace by starting a new company rather than the more traditional way of licensing the technology to an existing company. The Innovation Office (IO) is prepared to assist in this process by offering the following services:
- Identification of Commercialization Options: Through an initial meeting and follow-up, the IO staff learn about the business opportunity and discuss various ways to move it forward. IO staff present and discuss the attached Check list of issues for a start-up company at SFU.
- Business Opportunity Analysis: Following an agreement to work together, IO staff will work with the researcher to understand the research background and its applicability to particular markets. A Business Opportunity Document will be prepared which, in 1 -2 pages, describes: the opportunity (how the products will make money); the technology; the intellectual property situation; the products/services arising from the technology; the markets; the commercialization process; and next steps.
- Preparation of a Commercialization Plan: A brief document outlining why a start-up company is appropriate, how ownership might be apportioned, legal incorporation of a company; company site, financing of the company, Business Plan preparation, and company management.
- Dealing with the University: The IO staff can assist
researchers to address and resolve the following issues:
- internal SFU sign-off/information to appropriate administrators.
- how to provide a portion of commercialization proceeds to all parties who have such an expectation - students, other faculty, the University.
- SFU may have an interest in the intellectual property through policy or prior funding. This needs to be resolved and documented in an agreement.
- structural relationships with SFU - will SFU hold equity, will the company launch initial activities while housed at the university, technology transfer into the company, etc.?
Preparation of the Business Plan: A plan is required to
run the company and IO staff can assist researchers in its preparation. A plan
normally discusses how the necessary human and financial resources can be
gathered to create a product flow, which is put into the market to satisfy a need
and create a cash flow which allows the company to survive and grow.
This document is an expansion of the Business Opportunity Document, but provides more description, details the financial projections including cash flow, as well as describing the investment opportunity.
Such a plan has a series of action plans for product development; market development including sales and marketing; obtaining investment; strategic partnering, etc. There must be specific information about governance (Board of Directors) and advice (business mentors and advisors).
- Launching Company Activities: As company activities increase, hands-on involvement by the IO will decrease - - the sooner the company has its own employees and advisors, the better it will survive in the marketplace. The IO will monitor company activities in a manner which is negotiated and can continue to provide advice and assistance as mutually agreed upon.