Startups Information for Faculty
The Upstate entrepreneur may be a faculty member, post-doc, student, or investigator. OTT looks for passion, commitment, and the desire to make a difference in an entrepreneur. In cooperation with the Industrial Outreach Office (IOO), we will work with the entrepreneur to help make your entrepreneurial dream a reality.
Many additional resources are available locally and regionally to help you, and OTT and the IOO will help connect you with them. One of particular value is the Pre-Seed Workshop that is held at least twice a year in Syracuse, and more often in the region. We will encourage you to participate as this two-day workshop is an excellent introduction for clinicians and scientists to what it takes to start a business around your idea, and the final presentation represents an important first step in putting together a business plan.
If your company will be started around a technology developed by you as an Upstate employee, your startup will have to license that technology just as would any other interested party. Moreover, as OTT will not license to you as an individual, an early step in the licensing process will be for you to incorporate your company and gather a team to help you create it, although not generally in that order. Your involvement in a startup based on your own technology will also inevitably a create conflict of interest, which you will disclose in Upstate's conflict of interest form, and which will be managed by a conflicts management committee headed by your department chair. Also see the Conflicts of Interest policy and, if you are taking equity in the startup, SUNY's equity participation guidelines.
Your Startup Team
The team for your startup needs to include business in as well as technical people. It is important to recognize that starting and building a business is a complicated job requiring specialized skills typically acquired only during years of experience in business. Your company's ability to raise money will depend primarily on the credibility of your team, and investors are much more likely to invest in a team at least co-led by an experienced entrepreneur or businessperson than one led by a scientist, student or doctor. Investors prefer a company founded on a B technology run by an A team to one founded on an A technology but run by a B team. Early on your team should include both business and scientific advisors, the kind of people who will eventually become your company's Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Choose even informal advisors well as they also lend credibility to your team and startup.
You are no doubt curious as to what are typical terms for a startup license. As these will vary widely based upon the technology and the situation, it is impossible to give any specifics. However, since Upstate only benefits if your company succeeds, our license terms for startups will generally back-load cash payments to Upstate to leave more money in the company for use funding its commercialization activities. This will include taking equity in your company in lieu of a license issue fee. In addition to financial terms, all licenses will contain diligence conditions requiring that the company achieve certain milestones demonstrating progress towards commercial sales.
Our goal is a license with terms that do not interfere with the ability of your company to find investment, leaves you, other founders and investors plenty of incentive to succeed, does not overly stress company finances, especially in the early stages, and provides a reasonable financial benefit to Upstate if you succeed.