Venture Development Process

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What is the venture development process?

It is what we refer to as building a startup company around a university technology that has been licensed.

How do university discoveries and technologies get to market and create economic development impact?

In seeking to commercialize a technology developed at a university, the university first seeks to license that technology to an existing company since this is typically the most expedient path to market. Established companies bring resources including research and development funding, specialized equipment, subject matter expertise, market knowledge, existing customers and distribution channels.  However, finding an established company to option or license a university technology is not always feasible.  University technologies are generally at an early stage of development and can be disruptive, and sometimes there is not enough data to derisk the technology or the market opportunity sufficiently for a licensing opportunity. In this case, forming a startup company to commercialize the technology is a viable path.

Why would a startup company want to license or option a university discovery or technology?

If successful, getting a startup company to a point where the company can be acquired or go public with an initial public offering can be very lucrative for the founders, but it is a high-risk high-reward endeavor and the road can be fraught with pitfalls.  Since established companies can be resistant to licensing new technologies that could threaten their existing investment in infrastructure, equipment, people, patents, sometimes there are remarkable technologies available from universities where an appropriate licensee can not be determined or found.  In fact, sometimes the best pathway to bring a novel technology to market might be to form a new venture or a startup company.  This is often the case if there is a strong belief in the scientific merit behind the technology but the data to support the business value proposition (faster, better, cheaper, or just a better way) over what currently exists in the market is not yet available. The startup company seeks to find funding to prove out this value proposition in order to attract the partners and funding needed to fully commercialize the technology (bring it to market).

Where do you find university technologies to license?

For NC State University technologies, technologies are available on the NC State technology marketing website.  In addition, all universities that participate in Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) list their technologies on the AUTM Global Technology Portal . These are valuable resources and make searching for the right technology to address an identified  market need that much easier.

Why would it be advantageous to license a technology from a university?

Depending on the university, there will be a level of diligence and scrutiny that has been applied to selecting and filing for intellectual property (IP) protection.  At NC State University, our team works collaboratively to review, select and protect the technologies we believe have the greatest potential for impact. In addition to the diligence applied to the selection and filing for IP protection of the core technology, NC State supports the startup licensee with many resources and services through its’ New Ventures group.

What are the steps or what is the process involved in venture development?

The decision to form a startup company and license technology from NC State University can be illustrated by the Venture Development Process info graphic (above) and involves many steps or phases, each with its own learning curve, best practices, pitfalls, available resources, and avenues for partnership and support.

How does NC State University support the formation and launch of startup companies to commercialize university technology?

NC State strives to assist our innovators who would like to participate in startup companies through our New Ventures support within the Office of Research Commercialization  (ORC). We continuously strive to find new ways to make the process of commercializing university technologies through a startup more transparent, while finding ways to clarify, quantify and reduce the risks involved.  The Venture Development Process graphic (above) includes a walk-through of the steps or phases involved with starting a company based on University intellectual property. At each phase in the process, there are links to resources both internal to NC State, external from our Triangle Innovation Ecosystem and direct services offered by New Ventures within the ORC. From the initial invention disclosure to raising external capital, we assist our NC State startup companies through the process.

Our intent, with our array of partners, is to: