In the majority of cases we will seek to partner with existing companies via funded commercial collaborations and/or licenses, but from time to time it is more appropriate to set up a new company specifically to exploit the innovation or a whole line of work. The University has a wide range of support for entrepreneurship, an important element of which is the new enterprise competition.
A number of University spin-out companies have arisen from the competition. A substantial project is involved in establishing a spin-out, requiring significant resource from the academic founders and from the University. A company structure has to be created, investment procured, a company team formed, and many other matters attended to. The result is an independent company in which the University, the founders, and normally also a seed funding investor will have shares.
On occasion members of staff wish to set up a start-up company themselves to exploit the results of University work. Provided this does not conflict with their duties in the University and the necessary approvals have been obtained, this is an alternative way of building a new business. The University does not hold shares in start-ups.
When University IPR is involved it needs to be licensed to the new company, and a licence agreement is required. For spin-outs the compensation to the University is usually the shareholding it receives, whereas for start-ups the compensation is usually from royalties. From time to time members of the University community wish to start companies, or become involved in business ventures, which are not based on work arising in the University. RED staff are ready to give general business advice in these circumstances. There is a support network available in the Bristol area to which we can connect potential entrepreneurs.
Becoming involved in the new business generally represents a serious time commitment and it is important to consider any potential conflicts individuals may have with their roles with the University. It is best to discuss any such issues with our staff, and with the management of respective departments, schools or faculties. When it has been agreed that academic staff will remain full-time members of the University, but may spend a proportion of their time working for a spin-out company, the arrangements will be formalised through a service agreement between the company and the University. The same agreement may cover the use of University facilities.