The following post was written by Isaac Barchas, ATI’s Executive Director. Last week one of our interns, Beth Goldstein, wrote about the Intellectual Property and Business Formation Class.
As part of ATI’s continuing support of entrepreneurship on campus, we are helping to coordinate the Product Realization and Technology Commercialization class in the School of Engineering, convened by Prof. Steve Nichols (a great friend of entrepreneurship in general and ATI in particular.) The class is designed to show students the basics of business formation from a university platform. The students are a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, mostly from Engineering, but with auditors and occasional attendees from across the campus.
This past week Prof. Nichols gave Our Own Michael Webber, co-director of ATI’s Clean Energy Incubator, half the class time in exchange for marching his Mechanical Engineering students downstairs to sit in on the class.
Michael’s key points were based on his personal experience. To paraphrase him:
I’ve done a start-up. I’ve done a PhD. There is a LOT of stuff that you need to do to form a successful business that you would never even think about in your academic work. This includes not just IP protection, but:
- What, really, is the product that I’m building that somebody will pay for? (It’s not enough in the private sector to solve an important research problem … )
- How does my company get ownership of what I’ve invented while at The University?
- Who is my customer going to be?
- Where do I get capital in the private market?
- Who do I need on my team – like sales people, finance people … people I may have never met at university?
- What kind of professional (legal, accounting) support do I need, and where do I get it?
- Where do I find business infrastructure, like offices and labs? Who advises me?
Michael went on to talk about the resources that UT makes available to entrepreneurs. These include UT’s inventor-friendly Office of Technology Commercialization, which is accountable for licensing technology out of UT and which gave a presentation on the “dos and don’ts” of tech transfer in a university environment as part of the same class.
UT’s commercialization resources, of course, also include ATI. Here are some of the services that we provide for academic entrepreneurs:
- Consultations on your idea and how it might fit into a product or market … what the business implications of your idea might be.
- If your idea is licensable, collaboration with OTC in determining how best to bring the invention into a commercial entity (start-up or established company.)
- Support – in the form product and market analysis, organization building, capital strategy and fundraising, and business infrastructure – to build the business.
- A network of successful entrepreneurs who have done this before.
The University of Texas has some of the best technology commercialization support architecture in the country. An example: by Federal law, every university asserts an ownership interest in the intellectual property that its faculty and students product … but at UT, the inventor gets 50% of the ownership, while at other schools she gets much less (at Stanford, for example, it’s only 33%.) So if you are a UT academic entrepreneur, call us to talk about how to get the ball rolling. And if you are an experienced exec or investor looking for your next deal … see what UT has to offer.
8/28 Technology Commercialization Introduction
9/4 Market Validation and Customer Pain
9/11 Risk, Return and Product Design
9/18 Legal Issues: Intellectual Property and Business Formation
9/25 Technology Transfer and Commercialization at UT
10/2 Creating New Ventures and the Business Plan
10/9 Understanding Founding Sources
10/16 Entrepreneur as Innovator and Leading a Technology Venture
10/23 Market Launch
10/30-31 Global Idea to Product® Competition, AT&T Center