Licensing Technologies from Universities

A common way for startups to get going is by taking technology invented at a university (or federal laboratory or similar public institution) and “transferring” it to the commercial sector by creating a startup company whose main mission is to develop the technology and turn it into a viable business. Frequently the university inventors of the technology are also founders of the startup company.

I’ve met many people pursing this path of forming companies, especially those people who were with me in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program. There were 21 teams in our class at Stanford University, and those that will now be starting companies, which is most of them, will need to license technology from their associated universities.

Deutsch: Thomas Edison mit Glühbirne

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been through this process many times. Like all things, one gets better at it with experience. But the first time I had to license technology I felt very vulnerable because I had no idea what I was doing, nor what my expectations should be, whereas the university had decades of experience, hundreds of transactions to reference and lots of data they could use. Here are some guidelines that may be helpful if you’re doing this for the first time.

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