The Philosophy of the UT Horizon Fund
Technology Commercialization is moving the technologies from research findings to the market. This process involves several stages including:
- Identifying a novel invention and protecting that invention with intellectual property protection such as a patent. The patent is important to create an asset of interest to an investor. However, the investment requires utilization of precious capital owned by the university.
- Once the university has invested in protecting the invention with a patent or related intellectual property protection, an asset is created that may have future value to industry or investors. However, in most cases, industry and investors are still not yet interested because of the early stage of the technology and before the concept has been proven further.
- Once the concept has been proven, the next step is to identifying the relevance of the proven concept to society through further development. At this stage, the university will work closely with industry or investor to garner further resources and formally transfer the technology.
- Once the relevance has been proven, the university works with industry or the investor to maintain its position, enabling the university to recover the original investment, and enabling investments in future inventions to sustain the enterprise. When the university begins to collect returns, this is called the “Harvest” period.
- Entrepreneurial leadership is important through the concept stage to maintaining position.
A graphic of the process is shown below:
An analysis of case studies* reveals four points at which point failure can occur: (1) failure to deliver an invention from basic research, (2) failure to deliver a proven concept such as a prototype or regulatory review, (3) failure to deliver a proven market relevance such as an preclinical trial, early clinical trial, pilot plant, industry contract, book of business or related activity and (4) failure to deliver a guard against dilution such as a developed product or service offering. Entrepreneurial guidance is critical at the proof of concept stages and proof of relevance states, and strategies to reduce dilution are critical at the late proof of relevance and acquisition stages.
- Case Studies can be found at: http://www.autm.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Documents&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=4583
Working hand in hand with faculty and staff at UT institutions, and with industry and investors, the UT Horizon Fund focuses on the stages involving entrepreneurial leadership. This occurs through the proof of concept stage through to maintaining position to harvest.