Entrepreneurs@KU

Entrepreneurs@KU was launched as a transparent and supportive infrastructure to assist faculty and staff in starting companies. This infrastructure includes educational opportunities to develop and improve business models (Startup School @KU and iCorp@KU), proof of concept funding to simultaneously improve upon the technology while still inside the university, generous and transparent licensing terms (Swift Startup License) and SBIR/STTR Assistance program to help monetize newly formed companies.

Winner of the University Economic Development Association 2015 Awards of Excellence- Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Turning Discoveries into Jobs and Companies

Entrepreneurs@KU was launched as a transparent and supportive infrastructure to assist faculty and staff in starting companies.

About the Program

Entrepreneurs@KU was launched as a transparent and supportive infrastructure to assist faculty and staff in starting companies. This infrastructure includes educational opportunities to develop and improve business models (Startup School @KU and iCorp@KU), proof of concept funding to simultaneously improve upon the technology while still inside the university, generous and transparent licensing terms (Swift Startup License) and SBIR/STTR Assistance program to help monetize newly formed companies. The Entrepreneurs@KU infrastructure brings down barriers and provides a process oriented path for KU faculty, fellows and staff founders to analyze their business ideas empowering them to bring their ideas to life and build viable ventures in Kansas.
 

The goal of the first two programs is to empower KU faculty, fellows and staff to bring their ideas to life and build viable ventures in Kansas through an intensive hands-on entrepreneurial education experience. The programs leverage other assets in place at KU including the proof of concept (POC) fund, School of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and BTBC.

Startup School@KU

Startup School@KU was developed for aspiring faculty entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures based on KU technology designed to accelerate the startup process and increase chances of success. The Center for Entrepreneurship at the Business School created the curriculum and structure. Startup School@KU is six – two hour sessions based on the lean startup model starting with ideas generation through validation through to company launch. This develops faculty and staff entrepreneurs that have the necessary skills to start a company. Other programs will become open to graduates including Proof of Concept (POC) funding. These funds allow potential entrepreneurs to develop their idea inside the university while further developing the business concept through iCorp@KU. The POC application is a deliverable from Startup School@KU. Dates for Startup School@KU.

March 2, 9, 23, 30 April 6, 13, 20
6:00 – 8:00pm
BTBC Lawrence
Learn more about Startup School

iCorp @KU program

The second part of this new infrastructure is the iCorp @KU program. The iCorp model for development of entrepreneurial ideas and new company creation also taught in entrepreneurship curriculum in the Business School. This program takes those faculty/staff who matriculated through Startup School @KU and furthered development through POC awards and provide them with in depth analysis of their idea. iCorp @KU will emphasize real-world entrepreneurship through experiential learning, a flipped classroom and immediate feedback. Business hypotheses are immediately tested by talking to customers, partners and competitors, rather than relying on static case studies and secondhand market research. Participants will be challenged to create their own business model, making pivots or preserving based on findings.

Funding for Startup School @KU is a collaboration between the KS Department of Commerce, KUIC, School of Business and BTBC. The alumni network will be key to development of this program. A partnership with the School of Business and the Alumni Association provides both national and regional mentors to help guide these teams through the process and expand their network.

Swift Startup License

Swift Startup License: The next step is company formation and if required, a license from KU. Teams that complete the iCorp @KU program are eligible for a Swift Startup License. The Swift Startup License program goal is to stimulate the creation of new companies by KU researchers as founders through the provision of transparent licensing term of KU inventions. To promote innovation and entrepreneurship, KUIC provides simple, ready-to-use license agreement for start-up companies based on KU’s patented intellectual property. The Swift Startup License agreement (pdf) has a back-end loaded deal structure with no upfront payments, no past patent costs, no annual minimum fees, no minimum royalties, one low flat patent royalty rate and a success fee at the time of an exit/liquidation event. This would allow start-up companies to invest time and effort in developing the KU technology and is in line with current national guidance from both AAU and APLU as to the role of technology transfer in moving inventions to the marketplace.

The Swift Startup License will minimize contract negotiations enabling KU faculty and researchers to concentrate on the development of products. It is structured as attractive to prospective investors. The following are the proposed general terms:

  • Exclusive license with rights to sublicense
  • No payment for past patent costs ($20,000 limit) - future patent costs to be paid by Licensee
  • No upfront or annual fees
  • Financial and diligence milestones based on a detailed business plan
  • No equity for KU
  • A fixed 2% patent royalty rate on sales of any product(s); No minimum annual royalty payments
  • A sliding sublicense revenue starting at 35% that steps down to 15% over five years
  • A 1% exit fee when the company is acquired or goes public.

As mentioned above, qualifying for a Swift Startup License is contingent upon completion of Startup School@KU and iCorp@KU to be eligible. The company must have a CEO with relevant business experience and a team of advisors committed to the startup.

Funding

Funding of new ventures is an ongoing issue and first money into a startup is a critical step. These types of awards fund research and develop at small companies providing non-dilutive financing in the form of a grant or contract. They also provide important due diligence on technology. The State of Kansas historically ranks low in the number of SBIR/STTR awards from the federal government. In 2012,Kansas ranked 44th among states in the average annual number of SBIR awards per 100,000 people (Milken Institute). Moreover, rankings fell from 38th in 2010 and 37th in 2008. There was an opportunity to provide support to faculty to fund startups by leveraging this program.
 

KU created and launched an education program centered on acquiring SBIR/STTR government funding for small companies. KU partnered with BTBC to develop the SBIR/STTR Assistance Program at KU to serve KU faculty and BTBC and KU startup companies. This program brings nationally recognized consultants to KU three times per year. Day one is an all-day intensive training on how to prepare a competitive proposal to a specific agency (Spring – NSF; Summer – NIH; Fall – DoD). Day two is one-on-one meetings between the consultants and pre-screened faculty who want to start companies or who already have a company. The consultants evaluate which faculty are ready to submit a proposal based on these meetings. Intensive, one-on-one services for up to five companies is granted per cycle leading up to a SBIR/STTR application is supported through the program. The goal is to provide assistance so more faculty entrepreneurs see a path to monetizing a startup company thus creating more entrepreneurial activity.

The SBIR Assistance Program has been well received. Two training have been held to date: February (NSF held at KU-Lawrence) and May (NIH held at KUMC). A total of 66 registered for the two events representing 24 departments or centers at KU and 12 small companies. Prior to launching the training,we funded assistance to one company as a program pilot: UAV Radars LLC worked with a consultant toward a submission of a NASA Phase I SBIR application last Fall. This project was recently funded. The second round is complete and we awarded assistance for five additional companies in May.

Faculty Founder Campus Academic Department Company Agency Funding Status
Chris Allen, Lei Shi Lawrence Electrical Engineering Computer Science/td> UAVRadars NASA Funded
Chris Allen, Lei Shi Lawrence Electrical Engineering Computer Science/td> UAVRadars Navy Pending
Randy Nudo KUMC Neurology NeuroLink NIH Submitting Aug. 5
David Guggenmos   Regenerative Medicine      
Laird Forrest, Dan Aires, Chad Groer Lawrence, KUMC Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Dermatology HylaPharm NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Michael Detamore Lawrence Chemical Engineering Asklepion NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Lisa Friis, Paul Arnold Lawrence Mechanical Engineering; Neurosurgery Evoke Medical LLC NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Patrick Kearney BTBC Collaborator: Chemistry HD Sciences NIH Submitting Aug. 5
Darren Wallace KUMC Medicine (Kidney Institute) NewCo NIH Submitting Dec. 5
Liang Xu Lawrence Molecular Bioscience RBP Therapeutics NIH Submitting Dec. 5

The third cycle will occur in mid-October. The training will be focused on the Department of Defense.