houston voices

University of Houston: What should a faculty inventor’s role be in their startup?

Should you lead the company that's taking your technology to commercialization? Maybe. But maybe not. Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

Are you a faculty member at a university? Are you a researcher with an invention that you want to monetize? Do you want to start your own startup company? If you answered yes to these questions, another question you need to consider is, should you leave your research position at the university to lead your company or get out of the way entirely?

The answer to that question will be different for everyone. Some faculty inventors want to leave and launch a company based on their research. In most cases, faculty members want to keep their university roles. What is the right decision for you?

Douglas Hockard, the assistant vice president of Tech Launch Arizona at The University of Arizona, said, in a Tech Launch blog post, to consider your passion, time and expertise.

Do you have the passion?

Passion is required for anyone to enjoy their chosen career paths. Without passion, you are not going to want to dedicate your time or seek the expertise to become the best.

“Faculty researchers chose their careers intentionally, dedicating years of study and research to arrive where they are today. Most faculty are not interested in abandoning that career path,” Hockard said.

Leading a startup requires the same dedication that it took to get where you are in your university role.

Do you have the time?

A startup is not a part-time job. “While faculty researchers are rarely interested in leaving their career in the university, investors want a committed, and focused, leadership team. More than anything, the startup needs someone to focus full-time… to eschew any other pursuits and devote themselves fully to the success of the startup,” Hockard said.

Do you have the expertise?

Hockard mentions in his blog that there are roles that exist in startups for university faculty. The faculty inventor is the technology expert, and their knowledge will help in the commercialization of their technology. Sometimes there are better ways to support the startup while remaining in your university position.

“A scientific role in the company allows them to help guide the company technology direction while allowing someone else to focus on company formation, strategic planning, business development, and importantly, raising capital. What is most important is aligning the myriad needs of the startup with the knowledge, skills, and singular focus best suited to fulfill those needs,” Hockard said.

What's the big idea?

If you don’t have the passion, the time, or the expertise to run a startup or you just simply want to keep your university, maybe someone else should lead your startup.

“Without a doubt, identifying leadership can be daunting. While the desire might be to zero in on a ‘superstar,’ a startup needs someone that can commit the time and the effort and knows ‘what to do next.’ How can startups find that person?” Hockard said.

Your university’s technology transfer office can provide support and can be a good place for you to start. “TTOs provide myriad resources to help inventors move innovations ahead, including technology and market analysis, intellectual property protection, marketing, and more. Many full-service TTOs also have dedicated personnel to help launch startups based on university technologies.” Of course, it’s up to you who should join the company— especially to lead it— but having the support of “experienced potential partners” will help you make the right decision.

Startups need a lot of resources to become successful. Bringing in someone to help, if you don’t have the passion, time or expertise, could be very beneficial. If you do have all three of those things and you want to leave your university role, then go be the lead in your startup.

------

This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Cory Thaxton is the communications coordinator for The Division of Research.

Trending News

 
 

Promoted

From enlightening talks to networking opportunities, here's where you need to be in October. Photo via Getty Images

From networking meetups to pitch competitions, October is lined with opportunities for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post might be updated to add more events.

Additionally, mark your calendars for November 8 for the annual Houston Innovation Awards.

October 6 — Texas Venture Crawl

Head over to the Ion for pre-panel networking, an engaging Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) investor panel, followed by a happy hour for networking. Panelists include Grace Chan, Principal at bp Ventures; Jason Ethier, Founder of Lambda Catalyzer; Alex Gras, Associate at Mercury Fund; and Billy Grandy, Chief Innovation Officer and Managing Partner at Softeq Venture Fund.

This event is Friday, October 6, from 5 to 8 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

October 7 — Ideation Competition

The Pearland Innovation Hub is hosting it's first Ideation Competition. Participants will get an opportunity to have mentors guide them through Design Thinking and other methodologies to help generate ideas to solve local civic issues.

This event is Saturday, October 7, from 9:30 am to 3 pm at Pearland Innovation Hub. Click here to register.

October 11 — Emerging Tech: Revolutionizing the Industry Panel

From artificial intelligence and blockchain to virtual reality, this panel will explore the impact of these innovations on businesses and society. Whether you are a tech enthusiast, a professional in the industry, or simply curious about the future of technology, this event will have valuable networking opportunities.

This event is Wednesday, October 11, from 1 to 2 pm at HCC West Loop Campus. Click here to register.

October 13 — Web3, Blockchain, & Crypto...Oh My!

Expert speakers will unravel the mysteries of Web3, showcasing its potential to revolutionize industries like finance, gaming, and more. Learn about the power of Blockchain technology and how it ensures transparency, security, and trust in various sectors. Explore the endless possibilities of Cryptocurrencies and their impact on the global economy.

This event is Friday, October 13, at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 16 — Health & MedTech Mingle

Pumps & Pipes is hosting a night of industry mingles occurring simultaneously at the Ion featuring FinTech, EdTech, Food Tech, and more. This month's featured speaker is Dr. Alan Lumsden, Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery and Chair of the DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center at Houston Methodist.

This event is Monday, October 16, at the Ion. Click here to register.

October 19 — UH Energy Symposium Series - The Future of Mobility Promises & Bottlenecks

The latest installment of UH Energy's Critical Issues in Energy Symposium Series tackles the obstacles facing a transition to a circular economy.

Panelists to include: Dave Mullaney – Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute; Varuna Singh – Deputy District Engineer TxDOT; Erika Myers – Executive Director, CharIN, e.V.; Matt Peterson – President and CEO, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator; Catherine McCreight – Director of Transportation Planning, TxDOT; Funda Sahin – Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, University of Houston (Moderator).

This event is Thursday, October 19, at the University of Houston. Click here to register.

October 25 — Houston Startup Ecosystem Summit

The Houston Startup Ecosystem Summit is an opportunity for innovators, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts to come together and push the boundaries of what's possible. This event features a lineup of panelists, diverse breakout session tracks, and a competitive startup pitch showcase.

This event is Wednesday, October 25, at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 25  — TMC Startup Symposium

The Symposium will include 1:1 time with subject matter experts, industry networking events, educational presentations, and thought leader panel discussions. The following topics will be covered: intellectual property, voice of customer, regulatory reimbursement, clinical commercialization strategy, angel investing, venture capital investing, and serial entrepreneurship. Startup registration is $250 for a ticket.

This event starts Wednesday, October 25, from 8 am to 5 pm at TMCi. Click here to register.

October 26 — Unleash the Power of AI and ChatGPT

Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with a panel of industry experts, and network with like-minded individuals. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting your AI journey, this event is designed to inspire and educate. Discover how AI is revolutionizing various industries and learn how to leverage its power to drive innovation in your own projects.

This event is Thursday, October 26, from 6 to 8:30 pm at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 27 — SHINE: The Conference on Culture

Shine is a half day conference focused on the organizational structures of workplaces. Attendees can expect to hear from a range of speakers who will share their wisdom gained from industries, from breweries to public relations.

This event is Friday, October 27, from 8 am to 1 pm at Stages. Click here to register.

October 30-31 — Fuze

This energy conference is a must-attend event for executives, investors, and founders serious about solving the energy crisis and boosting company efficiency. Featuring keynotes, expert panels, tech showcases, and networking, Fuze has a variety of activities planned for energy industry professionals. Price of admission ranges from $299-$799.

This event starts on Monday, October 30, from 8 am to 7 pm at 713 Music Hall. Click here to register.

Trending News

 
 

Promoted