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UGA launches streamlined tech licensing for startups

Cory Acuff (left) and Tim Martin outside UGA's Innovation Hub. Martin and Acuff are leading the Georgia Startup License program, aimed at streamlining the technology licensing process for companies based on UGA research.

The new program fast-tracks business development for research-based university startups.

The University of Georgia’s Innovation District is offering a new tool to support university entrepreneurs pursuing commercialization of their research discoveries. Georgia Startup License is an express program that combines business and technical assistance with a streamlined technology licensing process to help UGA startups get off the ground.

Created by Innovation Gateway, UGA’s technology transfer office, Georgia Startup License leverages UGA’s momentum in moving ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace. To date, more than 200 startup companies and 850 products based on university research have reached the market.

To be eligible for Georgia Startup License, a UGA entrepreneur must either hold equity in a startup company or be named an inventor of the intellectual property (IP) to be licensed and commercialized.

“Georgia Startup License was developed using best practices from other universities and was reviewed by startup attorneys and investors to create a solid foundation for future company development,” said Tim Martin, associate director of Innovation Gateway’s Startup Program. “Our two-phase approach is ideally positioned for UGA startup companies who have achieved some external validation, including grant funding or dilutive investment.”

How it works

During phase I of the program, the Innovation Gateway team works closely with the startup to evaluate its market and business strategies, identify potential shortcomings, and develop an action plan to improve its overall readiness and maturity. Mentors, grant professionals and other business resources within the university’s growing innovation ecosystem can shepherd these companies through the assessment process.

The option to license the university IP under development is accessible when Innovation Gateway and the startup finalize an action plan. This grants the startup exclusivity to an exclusive license for the invention.

During phase II, the startup implements its phase I action plan, participates in UGA I-Corps and other entrepreneurial training and programming, and works toward accomplishing predefined milestones. Completion of these requirements triggers access to the express license, a standardized, non-negotiable agreement containing favorable terms and simplified costs compared to a typical UGA licensing agreement.

The efficient licensing approach eliminates the significant time and expenses typically spent in negotiating an agreement. Instead, those resources are redirected toward growing a successful new venture.

“The life of a university spin-out company is often difficult and unpredictable,” said Cory Acuff, associate director of licensing in Innovation Gateway. “Georgia Startup License is really a partnership between UGA and the startup that provides favorable and preferred licensing terms to help reduce some uncertainty, while simultaneously setting the company up for long-term success.”

To learn more about Georgia Startup License, please visit the Innovation Gateway website.