Many scientists and engineers have the ambition to turn their research into successful businesses that can reach a global market. However, this is not an easy task and it requires a lot of planning, strategy, and execution. There are several things and factors that scientists need to contemplate before turning scientific research into a startup. In this article, we explore some of the important factors for this process.
The main things in turning scientific research into a start-up:
1) Dividing the research group members into two groups
If you are planning to start a company based on your research, you will need to consider the roles and responsibilities of your team members. Your research team consists of several people, including a mix of students, post-docs and faculty. The first thing you need to decide is who is going to work on the company and who is going to stay at the university. This will depend on various factors, such as the availability, interest, expertise, and career goals of each person. You should discuss this with your team and reach a mutual agreement that respects everyone’s preferences and contributions.
2) Fair splitting up equity
This is an important and challenging step. Founders who will leave the university to focus on the start-up full-time should receive far more stock than founders who stay. You should be aware that your equity split will not be proportional to your seniority in the original research group. Most people who leave university are younger, while senior professors stay.
3) Select the chief executive officer. You should know, that the best choice is one of the original researchers.
Too many researchers assume that they should stay in academia and seek a chief executive officer to launch their companies. This is not a good idea because it’s hard to find a great chief executive officer to run a company at this early stage. Real chief executive officers usually have much better opportunities than running a start-up with no capital. One of the original researchers can be chosen as the chief executive officer at this stage.
4) Negotiating with tech transfer offices
At this point, you need to negotiate intellectual property rights for this research with the technology transfer office at the university. Be wary of their well-intended but incorrect advice. Some university technology transfer offices are excellent, but others are not. Be sure to check their records carefully.
5) Attracting investors
Attracting investors will be a key step in the success of your business and turning scientific research into a startup. In the first years of your startup, probably the company won’t have excellent revenue and investors are vital to surviving in the competitive market. Creating a professional PowerPoint, brochure, or poster to clearly express the company’s activities by providing a business plan can be very helpful in attracting investors.
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