How to Kill a University Spin Out
Transferring research technology into a startup requires a process approach as the path from the lab to the market, from raw technology to product, is long and risky.
Great insight from Babs Carryer, New Venturist:
“There are lots of ways to screw up in entrepreneurship. There are particular challenges in commercializing university technologies. Getting from the lab to the marketplace, from benchtop to bedside, is fraught with many valleys of death. This is the first of a series of posts about those pitfalls. In this post I describe three case studies of real things that happened to real people around intellectual property, founder partnerships, and the interaction between business and science people.
Background. In my work with Carnegie Mellon’s Project Olympus, for which I fill the role of Embedded Entrepreneur, and in my past as co-founder and President of LaunchCyte, I have worked closely with academic researchers and faculty inventors. My goal is to commercialize breakthrough innovations into startup companies that develop products, provide jobs, and, hopefully, create wealth (so that we can do this all over again).
While there is much literature out there for budding entrepreneurs, I find that the material is not suited to academic entrepreneurs. I define academic entrepreneurship as commercialization stemming from deep technical research conducted within an academic institution. Academic entrepreneurship is the process of bringing to market the innovations discovered in the academic laboratories. There are two commercialization options for academic entrepreneurs: licensing to an existing company or creating a startup. My focus is on the latter…”