University of Minnesota
Office for Technology Commercialization
http://www.research.umn.edu/techcomm
612-624-0550

Office for Technology Commercialization homeOTC

About OTC

Venture Center

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The Venture Center is a business unit within the Office for Technology Commercialization that works with entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors to create new start-up companies based on research at the University of Minnesota. This unit was established to increase the number and success rate of start-ups founded on University technologies. The Venture Center employs a proven venture capital model of carefully analyzing start-up companies and then focusing resources on value creation in these companies.

Strategy

The Venture Center assesses all start-up ideas involving University-owned Intellectual Property. The Venture Center prefers to work with start-up opportunities when there is a compelling market strategy, high potential to create substantial return for the University, and the technology meets an unmet societal need. The Venture Center has the capability to help develop a business plan, recruit management, and facilitate the formation of a new, independent company with a license that grants rights to University intellectual property.

Service Offerings

The Venture Center staff members team with University researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors in activities essential to the establishment and success of a new company. Activities include:

  • Evaluating and assisting with business plans and executive summaries
  • Recruiting a management team and board of directors
  • Preparing presentations to investors
  • Structuring and negotiating investment terms for the University license
  • Finding professional expertise based on prior experience and reputation

 

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CEO-in-Residence Program

The CEO-in-Residence program is a cornerstone of the Venture Center. The goal of the program is to match CEOs and business executives with University inventions. In order to achieve that goal, the Venture Center recruits key individuals who have a track record of success in establishing, financing, and leading start-up companies. The Venture Center’s CEO-in-Residence program allows successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business people to participate in reviewing intellectual property at the University and, if an appropriate opportunity is identified, contributing to or leading a new start-up company.

The Venture Center is constantly on the lookout for experienced entrepreneurs to fill CEO-in-Residence positions. The Venture Center is looking for leaders with a proven track record in running successful start-ups, with expertise in raising money at that early stage, and with a breadth of experience in evaluating technology-based start-up opportunities.

If interested, please contact venture@umn.edu for more information.

Discovery Capital Investment Program

The Discovery Capital Investment Program provides seed funding to startup companies based on university technology to kick-start the transfer of university inventions to the market. Through Discovery Capital, startups that are currently developing their product or service may apply for up to $350,000 in equity financing.

To qualify for the program, startup companies must carry a license agreement from the U valid for the same field of use the investment would benefit. Companies that have already received equity capital from outside investors will not be considered.

The Discovery Capital board of advisers will determine which applicants to approve for funding based on factors including the U’s potential return on investment, its interest in commercializing technology developed through federally-funded research and its desire to facilitate faculty involvement with early-stage companies. If selected, the company must secure a matching investment of an equal or greater amount from an outside investor.

Companies interested in applying may contact the Venture Center at venture@umn.edu.

Investor Relationships

The Venture Center’s activities reflect the University’s wide-ranging research strengths, including human health and veterinary medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, engineering and physical sciences, and software and digital assets.

In addition to world-class technology, a robust commercialization infrastructure, and experienced management, the recruitment of external capital remains a critical factor in the long-term success of University start-up companies.

Accordingly, the Venture Center maintains active relationships with angel investors, venture capital firms, and private equity investors across all of these disciplines. If you are either an accredited investor or represent an investment group and have expertise in a particular field, there may be investment opportunities with Venture Center start-ups across a wide spectrum of industries and technologies. Due to the early stage of company development inherent in University ventures, the Venture Center seeks out investors with appropriate risk tolerance that can provide capital resources, knowledge, contacts, and assistance to the companies.

As has been noted in several studies of University ventures, University start-ups are significantly more likely to survive their formative years, be profitable, receive venture capital financing, and result in an IPO than non-University start-ups. Therefore, investment partners of the Venture Center and its companies have the opportunity to work with and proactively contribute to a comprehensive start-up operation that combines technology, infrastructure, and management and is uniquely positioned to maximize success.

Please contact venture@umn.edu for more information.

Business Advisory Group

The Venture Center has formed a Business Advisory Group to help vet and assist with technology commercialization. The Business Advisory Group member expectations are the following:

  • Active participation bi-monthly meetings
  • Help us find business entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs
  • Make connections with other key stakeholders and industry experts
  • Assist us with advice (technical and market)
  • Correspond outside of regularly scheduled meetings
  • Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

Please contact us at venture@umn.edu for more information.


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