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Faculty/Staff Startup Guide for technology-based businesses: Making the transition from research to a commercial enterprise.

Business Development
Technology Development
Intellectual Property
ISU Administrative Responsibilities
Startup Guide (PDF)

Main Overview

This is a guide to help ISU faculty and staff members who are considering starting a business based on technology developed at ISU during the course of their research. ISU has several programs to assist faculty and staff in making the transition from research to commerical enterprise. There are four major activities in the process of starting a business. This guide is divided into four sections which include:

  1. Business Development
    The ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship can provide assistance to your company in a wide range of business related areas.
  2. Technology Development
    ISU's Institute for Physical Research and Technology (IPRT) and the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) can provide research and product development assistance to your company.
  3. Intellectual Property
    You are required to disclose your invention to the Office of Intellectual Property & Technology Transfer (OIPTT) / ISU Research Foundation (ISURF). ISURF will determine whether the discoveries can be patented or copyrighted and will discuss licensing options for your company.
  4. Administrative Issues / Conflict of Interest
    You are required to meet with administrative staff to determine if oversight will be necessary to make sure that your business interests do not conflict with your position at ISU.

General Considerations

Starting a business can be a complex process and it is very typical that activities will be ongoing and simultaneous in each of the areas listed above. How much time you can devote to the new business is clearly an important consideration. Options do exist, and range from serving only as a consultant to the new business, to taking a leave of absence from the University. The company disclosure meeting with administrative staff will provide an opportunity to ask questions about your options.

Please keep in mind that the day-to-day details involved in operating a business are very different from a University position, and are not for everyone. You should seriously and honestly consider the following issues when making the decision to form a company.

Academic Career and Personal Life

The following issues are included in the ISU Administrative Responsibilities section and will be addressed in your interactions with the facilitators.

  • What is your goal in starting the business - financial gain or a desire to commercialize the technology? Are you willing and able to invest the long hours and hard work needed?
  • Will (or how will) the new business impact your existing career goals such as obtaining tenure or training graduate students?
  • How will you balance your responsibilities to your university position with the needs of a new business?

General Decisions

The following issues are included in the Business Development, Technology Development, and Intellectual Property sections and will be addressed in your interactions with the facilitators.

  • What product(s) or service(s) will your company sell?
  • Will your discoveries result in a patent(s) and will you be able to gain access to use the intellectual property in your business?
  • Have you considered who your customers will be?
  • Do you see your role in management and/or technical development?
  • Do you have a realistic timeline (including financial needs) for developing and commercializing the technology?

Common Pitfalls

  • Thinking you can do all the work yourself. The skills needed to manage and run the company are very different from the scientific skills needed to develop the product(s)/service(s). Make sure you have qualified individuals to fill the various roles.
  • Trying to pursue too many ideas at once. Keep things simple. Although many interesting scientific questions may exist for your technology, success is more likely if you focus initially on one product. Other ideas can always be explored at a later time.