Clemson University researchers are often motivated to expand their activities outside of their labs and shift their efforts from pure research to entrepreneurial activities.
By founding or participating in a start-up company, University faculty can be directly involved in the commercialization of their inventions. Additionally, they can benefit from their lab discovery transforming into a successful product capable of having real-world impact.
In this scenario, an early-stage company must continually leverage its technology to derive value for its business, grow its customer base, and secure third-party investment.
Intellectual property is a crucial asset of most early-stage companies and can be a critical component of their products and services. A vital step in the formation of every successful business is developing a solution to an unmet market need. A technology's "value proposition" is derived from the value that comes along with a customer's willingness to pay for a solution to their problems.
A value proposition can be amplified by sufficiently protecting one's intellectual property to preserve a company's competitive advantage. CURF manages and protects Clemson's IP portfolio through various means, including patent and copyright protection. With a patent or copyright, a university spin-out company can restrict its competitors from making, selling, using, or copying its technology. In addition, if a start-up's proprietary information is kept secret from its competitors, that start-up can also gain legal IP protection as a trade secret.
Third-party investors will typically want to see some form of IP protection to help de-risk their investment. A start-up company with a protected IP position will usually be more attractive to investors than those without protectable IP. Despite the importance of IP to a prospective investment, investors will also be looking heavily at a technology's value proposition, the individual founders of the company, and the company's go-to-market strategy.
CURF works with Clemson start-up companies by protecting and licensing IP through various types of agreements. An Option Agreement is often the first step to a commercial license and gives a company a limited right to develop a technology, conduct business diligence, and secure investment. Once milestones are mutually agreeable, a company can execute its option and work with CURF to secure full commercial rights to a technology under a License Agreement.
Faculty members interested in securing commercial rights to Clemson technology should do the following:
- Disclose their IP to CURF.
- Work with CURF through its Opportunity Assessment to protect the IP.
- Submit a licensing application to CURF
- Form a separate business entity.
- Secure rights to the technology through an Option and Limited Use Agreement.
Have questions about how to form a business or license Clemson IP? Submit an Inquiry Intake Form.