OTD protects academic principles and independence while advancing discoveries toward commercial development.

Startup Ventures

Startup ventures - new companies formed around a core technology or technology platform licensed from Harvard - provide unique opportunities and challenges for all concerned. OTD strives to be creative and flexible in order to address and adapt to these challenges, and to craft effective commercialization strategies in the new ventures space.

Starting a new company (or NewCo) is truly a formidable challenge. It requires dogged commitment, dedication, determination, persistence, and sacrifice. The vast majority of new ventures fail, even in spite of the promising nature of the core technology. This is generally because new and unseasoned entrepreneurs operate on the erroneous assumption that "good science" or "good technology" will lead to success in business. This is a misconception. In order to be viable and thrive, a new venture requires several key “success factors”. Perhaps most important is an experienced and skilled management team, capable of improvising (if need be) and realizing the value of "good technology", even in the face of difficult circumstances.

OTD considers a range of issues when seeking to identify technologies around which a NewCo can be formed. As a commercialization strategy, a NewCo is considered only when a persuasive business case can be made that a viable new entity can be formed, and that it will be the best means to attract investment for R&D, “productize” a new technology and launch it into the market. Chief among the specific factors which OTD considers are:

  • Scientific excellence and innovation
  • Novelty and patent position
  • The ability of the technology to provide a platform for multiple product opportunities
  • The market environment (competitive analysis)
  • Whether and to what extent existing companies are interested in taking a license
  • Availability of risk capital, and the interest and track record of potential investors
  • Commitment of the inventor(s) to the commercialization process
  • The management team of the proposed new venture
  • The presence of a true business "champion" for the technology and the new venture

It is essential that the entrepreneur educate him or herself to prepare for the challenges ahead. For this purpose, we provide a few online resources (see Additional Information, above) and a list of relevant reading material. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, nor to represent an official recommendation from the University, but it does provide a "first step" towards gathering the information you will need if you are planning to start a company or are considering it as a possibility in the future.

OTD frequently receives inquiries on these topics from both faculty members and aspiring entrepreneurs. The links above provide a collection of resources and information related to startup ventures.

Reference to any product, process, publication, service, or offering of any third party by trade name, trademark, manufacturer or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply the endorsement or recommendation of such by Harvard University.