Why bother starting up a Company while at Rensselaer?
Many faculty at Rensselaer are engaged in research that at some point in development can be translated into a product or process with commercial value. Unlike a pure research institution, Rensselaer is a technological research university, which by definition implies the development of ideas and inventions that have practical application outside of academia.
As such, Rensselaer encourages faculty and graduate researchers to take the next step with their research and consider starting up companies to commercialize their ideas; Not only for the financial benefits it can bring the inventor and the Institute, but also for the prestige and good PR achieved when ideas generated in the Lab are successfully transferred into the marketplace and society where they can benefit others.
Streamlined IP Protection & Licensing for Faculty and Grad Students
If you are a faculty member or graduate student at Rensselaer, you have the ability to start-up a company based on your research. The Institute even offers faculty and students a fast-track process to secure the Intellectual Property (IP) and their rights to use it in the form of the “Faculty Expedited License Agreement.” In broad strokes, here’s how the fast-track process works:
Rensselaer’s New Expedited License Program
An attractive, “Expedited License Agreement” is available as an option for Faculty and/or graduate students who wish to take a license to technology that they have invented while conducting research at Rensselaer. The Expedited License Agreement can be either “exclusive” or “non-exclusive” and is available at an attractive royalty rate of only 2% or 1%, respectively. This easy-to-negotiate license can be completed quickly as it only contains two pages of negotiable Business Terms along with a standard license agreement template.
Basic Elements of the Expedited License Agreement
Standard to the Agreement, the start-up grants RPI a 5% equity position in the Company. The Company needs to provide a copy of their Business Plan along with a Development Plan for the technology and the Company’s financial statement, showing that it possesses the capability to reimburse the Institute for sunk patent costs and for paying for the future patent prosecution expenses. Faculty and graduate students can also get help from the Lally School’s Serverino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship to assist with the preparation of these documents
Benefits of the Expedited License Program
When you consider what it costs to develop a technology or invention and to then protect it with patents and other forms of intellectual property protection, you’ll realize that Rensselaer’s expedited licensing program for faculty and students is a fair, even generous deal. In the “real world” outside of the Institute, a faculty or student inventor would have to pay up-front out of pocket for lab equipment & facilities they routinely have access to at Rensselaer at no cost.
Then, once the idea for the potentially patentable invention or process has been vetted and the patent process gets underway, the inventor(s) have to once again, pay (up front and out of pocket) the legal and administrative costs of intellectual property protection. However, with the Expedited License Agreement, these up front sunk costs are paid out of pocket by Rensselaer. The only downside complaint offered by students and faculty are that these costs must eventually be repaid by the company from future revenues according to its OTC approved business plan.
Rensselaer Invests in Faculty Entrepreneurs where Angels and VC’s Won’t
Another way to think about the Expedited License Agreement for faculty and graduate student researchers, is that Rensselaer essentially positions itself as a “partner and investor” by putting up the research equipment & facilities and funds the up front payment of sunk costs associated with securing and licensing the patents. As a bona-fide investor in the newly created business, the Institute is due a fair return which it takes in the form of a nominal royalty, a small equity stake in the company and gets reimbursed for sunk legal and administrative patenting costs.
If you disbelieve the value of what faculty and graduate researchers get from Rensselaer, we suggest that you first try to find an angel investor or venture capitalist willing to invest a single dollar in the infrastructure of your research apparatus or patent protection process. If you do this exercise, you will quickly gain a new appreciation for Rensselaer’s generous IP Policy and the valuable Intellectual Property Protection services provided by the Office of Technology Commercialization.
For further information, please contact the Rensselaer Office of Technology Commercialization.
Rensselaer also offers help to start and grow your venture
Rensselaer has gone one step further to help you successfully bring your idea to market. In the investment and fund-raising world, it’s called “smart-money.” Not only does Rensselaer provide the facilities and pay the up-front patent expenses associated with your research, but the Institute offers business development assistance through the Emerging Ventures Ecosystem (EVE 2.0) – Rensselaer’s distributed business incubation program. EVE 2.0 is a strategically organized program of services, tools, resources, people and organizations who’s collective mission it is to help you build a successful business venture around your technology/ invention. To learn more about how EVE 2.0 can assist you with the start-up and growth of your new venture, please click on the button below.