How to Create a University Startup?

Establish Your Objectives

The structure of the incubator in terms of organizational and operations wise should reflect the needs of the university, the target group which acts as clients, the type of research findings/technologies and the target market. The key questions that need to be addressed are:
  • is it whether to provide researchers with resources to improve research findings/new technologies or to generate licensing revenues from industry partners?
  • is incubator designed for commercialization of academic IP that is non patentable or too early for the market?
  • is it designed to develop student entrepreneurial skills or to bolster university’s standing in the industrial world
Understand Clients
By knowing the type of clients that you will be dealing with, you will able to clarify your objectives. Stakeholders can come from various backgrounds from corporate to academics based in the university. So it is crucial to conduct a thorough analysis on your target group so that you can customize the incubator services to suit the stakeholder’s preferences.
Review Established Incubators
Start up companies varies depending on the research venture, organizational structure, capital requirements and incubation protocol. Field of research which is frequently related to start ups includes life science, medical science, IT and engineering. Numerous start ups would have up to 12 staff regulating daily start up activities whereas others would have 1 to 2 core employees. Managers and directors who oversee the start up operations are either of entrepreneurial or business background. Students or alumnus were normally recruited as staff based on educational background that is relevant with incubator operations. For example, staff with IT expertise is assigned to incubator units for IT based prototypes. According to a report by Oxford, university start ups established at the US supported an average of 30 ventures annually. Some start ups utilizes short incubation period and provide consultation services of marketing and strategy, thereby enabling them to generate revenue within months. Other start ups which continuously infused with capital by industrial collaborators requires years of research works before product distribution in the market.
Financial Management
University start ups provides free services to clients based on the university. Revenues can be generated by clients who are not affiliated with the university via equity agreements, royalty, loans, service and rental fees. Majority of start up incubators and accelerators were funded by the university and various parties including:
  • Corporation/ industrial collaborators
  • Public funds
  • Alumni donors
  • Economic development bodies
Business Strategy
Building a credible business case is crucial in attracting potential partners and sponsors. Apart from generating profits in the long run, there are various benefits that can be reaped from startup accelerators:

— Job Creation
Thriving incubator ventures are likely to remain in the local economic landscape, creating job opportunities and establishing channels to promote university-industry interaction

— Increased Impact Figures
University start ups served as a platform for new student ventures to be exploited for technology transfer

— Student Recruitment and Career Development
Entrepreneurship is growing to become a prospective career choice for students. Recent surveys indicated that students were more interested in launching their own business.