Startup Formation

UNeMed Map Startup Village

There are certain situations when building a startup company is the best possible course of action. Here’s everything you need to know about all that’s involved in forming a start-up company with UNeMed.

Why Startup?

It doesn’t happen often, but there are certain technologies and inventions from UNMC where it makes the most sense to start new company. The reasons for starting a technology-based company are varied and depend on a number of factors that include the particular biomedical industrial sector, the stage of the research, and the very nature of the related technology.

Most often, UNeMed helps a UNMC inventor build a startup when the technology is at such an early stage that further development appears unlikely. Potential industrial partners—those with the resources to finance such costly development—hesitate to invest in something surrounded by such uncertainty. But they might be willing to acquire a startup company that has worked out a lot of those questions already.

And there are times when a UNMC inventor has the right kind of entrepreneurial spirit that make a new company work.

In any case, UNeMed will always prefer the route that gives a technology and its inventor their best chance for ultimate success—whether that’s negotiating a licensing deal with a large multinational corporation, working out a sponsored research agreement with a small niche-market biotech firm, or launching a new startup.

Startup Feasibility
UNMC faculty and staff thinking of starting a company with their own technology should evaluate whether it makes good business sense. Biotechnology companies typically require years of research and development before generating revenue. The need for capital investment and development financing is a constant pursuit.

If you want to start a company with a UNMC technology, you should be able to answer these questions:
1. What is your first product, and how much work is needed before it can be sold?
2. Who are your customers, and how does your product address their needs?
3. What is the product development plan, and how much money do you need to complete it?
4. Will you be the sole founder of the company or will there be others?
5. What personnel does your company need to overcome obstacles, and how will you attract them to your company?
6. How will you fund your company in the beginning?
7. What incentives can you offer to potential investors?
8. What obstacles do you anticipate, and how will you overcome them?

You should address these issues with UNeMed professionals and your lawyer or consultants.

Complete a Business Plan
You must make the case for your company, not just your research. That is an important distinction. Investors want one thing: a return on investment. Your experiments must work, your data must be published, and your intellectual property must be protected. But that is not enough. Investors fund companies that can demonstrate how good science, published results and strong patents will eventually turn into a massive profit.

Make that case to UNeMed first. We will help you refine the message before you meet potential investors. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you will need to draft a business plan that communicates the financial plans, market opportunity and vision of the company. You must submit the full business plan to UNeMed or to our Business Development Manager before you can license the technology from UNeMed. (Yes, you will have to sign a licensing agreement, even for a technology you invented because, technically, your invention is actually owned by the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska.)

We recommend viewing this guide to business plans.

Decisions, decisions
The company needs to be registered and incorporated to become a legal entity. Then a CEO must be selected to run the company. The CEO and founder/inventor will negotiate a license for the technology with UNeMed.

So many decisions to make, but where do you start?

First, hire a lawyer and consult with your co-founders about whether it’s a good idea to create a new company. Review with them your business plan, and discuss options and best ways to set up a new business. There are a variety of legal structures for businesses: partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies. UNeMed can help explain those options, and what might be best for you. But the final decision is between you, your co-founders, your investors and your lawyers.

Second, who makes the ultimate decisions about your company? It doesn’t matter if it’s a shareholder agreement, a management agreement or even a handshake with your co-founder. In any case, UNeMed will need to know how your company is going to make decisions and what rules will govern disputes. You will need to select a CEO, someone other than you, to run a company. Researchers are great at what they do and while some may be good with business, the job of a CEO includes things that can’t be delegated. The CEO is responsible for setting the company strategy and direction, modeling and creating the company’s culture, building and leading the executive team, as well as raising and allocating company funds. A well-seasoned CEO is the best bet for commercial success.

Third, do you have intellectual property? The University will treat you like any other company that licenses its IP, or intellectual property, even if you are the inventor. Your newly-formed company will need to pay royalties for future products, commit to a developmental plan, reimburse the University for IP costs, and pay additional costs of renewing or continuing that same IP protection.

Fourth, know there are options when licensing a technology from UNeMed. Perhaps your company would like to raise a small amount of capital to determine the technology’s feasibility. Before signing a license agreement, your company may be able to negotiate a short-term option agreement that allows the company to further evaluate the technology and begin fundraising.

Mentoring
Once a license is executed, the company will have ongoing relationship with UNeMed for support and assurance that contractual obligations and milestones are met.

UNeMed can provide guidance for registering for federal grant programs and several state-level grant programs that might help your company get started.

UNeMed’s recent success in startup formation can be partially attributed to a more concentrated effort in the area, but Nebraska has also become a more fertile entrepreneurial environment in recent years. Government incentives, local directives and several mentoring and funding programs all helped cultivate the burgeoning startup scene in Omaha and surrounding areas.

UNeMed plays an active role in this ecosystem, participating in local entrepreneurial organizations such as Pipeline, Straight Shot and NMotion. We can serve as a concierge to make the introductions and help you make the most of that ecosystem.

And always remember that UNeMed has been a party to more than 50 startups over the years, and we want each and every one of them to succeed. We have a vested interest—in time, treasure and a desire to bring biomedical innovation to market—in giving a new UNMC-based startup achieve its goals. UNeMed would be your greatest asset and ally.

Inventions | MTA | CDA | Intellectual Property | Startups | Licensing | Technologies

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