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Intellectual Property Licensing to Illini New Companies (IP-Linc)
Intellectual Property Licensing to Illini New Companies (IP-Linc) is a new initiative designed to increase University support and reduce costs for eligible participants interested in commercializing UIUC research through the formation of a startup company.
As a participant, the program will connect you with a team of experienced commercialization, intellectual property, and investment professionals to help you explore your interest, vet your business idea, and guide you toward the resources to achieve your personal and business goals. As you progress through IP-Linc, you gain access to UIUC intellectual property through a streamlined option and license agreement with startup-friendly, preset terms.
Through IP-Linc, you will benefit from the customized guidance of UIUC’s experienced commercialization professionals while ensuring consistent access to University resources and technologies.
IP-Linc will provide you with:
- A “one-stop-shop” for access to the University’s full range of entrepreneurship and intellectual property resources.
- Reduced barriers to entrepreneurship, particularly for individuals traditionally underrepresented in commercialization and entrepreneurship.
- Expert guidance that will allow you to identify and address potential opportunities and pitfalls early to achieve a strong start for your venture.
- A startup-friendly license with business and financial terms that are transparent to program participants; no one “gets a better deal” and everyone gets a great deal.
- Accelerated IP transition and reduced licensing and legal costs.
Submit a short application to OTM that identifies the UIUC technology(ies) you wish to commercialize and describes your business idea and plans at a high level (you do not need to have already started the company). An OTM technology manager will meet with you to confirm your eligibility (see eligibility requirements below) and, if appropriate, enroll you in the program.
Please note that if the technology you wish to commercialize has not yet been disclosed, you or the creators (if you are not the creator) must submit an invention report to OTM in order to participate in this program.
Your technology manager will assemble your IP-Linc support team, which will typically include the technology manager, an EnterpriseWorks Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR), and colleagues from the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) and Illinois Ventures. You will meet regularly (e.g., monthly) with your support team, who will provide you with feedback and work with you to develop a readiness plan to support a strong launch for your company and move you closer to licensing University IP.
Action items on a Readiness Plan may include:
- Performing customer discovery through participation in NSF I-Corps
- Applying for I-POC funds and/or an NSF Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) grant to answer key technical questions about the tech(s) being commercialized
- Connecting with additional mentors or advisors, including one or more EIRs
- Identifying one or more co-founders to ensure both business and technical leadership
- Applying for I-Start Seed Funding for assistance incorporating a company and establishing founding documents, a business plan, and accounting practices
- Working with the Illinois FAST Center to complete a sprint program and receive support and assistance in pursuing SBIR/STTR funding
As you work on the activities in your readiness plan, you may also be eligible for a Linc Option. This is a one-year option plus evaluation license agreement with a low option fee that is creditable toward patent or license expenses owed under a future license. OTM will work with you to determine the appropriate milestones which must be reached to exercise the option and subsequently enter into a Linc License. If the participant is making satisfactory progress through the program and would benefit from a longer option period, the option may be extended for a second year with an additional modest fee.
Note 1: Some participants may demonstrate readiness to proceed directly to a license without an option period (e.g., they have already fulfilled many of the action items on a typical Readiness Plan) or may need an executed commercial license to effectively pursue their early-stage business plan. In such cases, the support team may recommend accelerated progression to licensing.
Note 2: The evaluation license within the Linc Option allows participants to do internal R&D only; a commercial license from the University is required to sell, offer for sale, export, import, have someone manufacture, etc. any product or service based on University-owned technology.
Upon determining that you have met the requirements of your readiness plan (which may be adjusted as you progress), your technology manager will work with you to execute a Linc License. The Linc License offers preferred financial terms to eligible IP-Linc participants through a combination of preset financial and business terms and the flexibility to accommodate a broad range of technology areas, industries, and business models.
Signing a license is not the end of your relationship with OTM; it is the start of a new phase. We value our relationship with our licensees and your technology manager will continue to work with you to: 1) license additional IP to your company if needed, 2) connect you with opportunities and investors whenever we can, and 3) discuss your milestones and obligations to the University.
- You or your team should include someone affiliated with the University, such as current or recent faculty, staff, employees, or tenants of EnterpriseWorks. A team with no affiliated participants may be deemed eligible on a case-by-case basis upon OTM review of specific circumstances.
- The technology you wish to commercialize must be 1) disclosed to OTM; 2) available for licensing in the field of use of interest to the participants; 3) solely owned by the University, or, if jointly owned, UIUC must be the lead entity and all joint owners must agree to licensing via IP-Linc; 4) not subject to prohibitive export control restrictions; and 4) not subject to sponsored research terms that would preclude or complicate execution of a license.
The Office of Technology Management will make the final determination on eligibility and will conduct standard vetting to ensure that the opportunity is a good fit for the technology and a responsible allocation of University resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I participate in IP-Linc?
The first step is to complete a brief application. An OTM representative will then reach out to confirm eligibility and guide you through the rest of the process.
I am interested in a technology that has not yet been disclosed to OTM. What should I do?
Creators or co-creators of the technology can submit an invention report either before or concurrently with applying to IP-Linc. If neither you nor any of your teammates are a creator, please reach out to an OTM technology manager for more information.
Can I still have access to the University’s innovation and entrepreneurship resources if I’m not interested in IP-Linc and/or I am not starting a company based on UIUC research?
Yes! Many (if not most) University innovation and entrepreneurship resources are available to all UIUC entrepreneurs. See https://entrepreneurship.illinois.edu for a guide to the University’s many innovation resources.
You describe the Linc License as “startup-friendly.” What are the business and financial terms?
The Linc License is not available to the general public, so OTM is not publicly posting the business and financial terms. Eligible IP-Linc participants can apply to the program or reach out to an OTM technology manager directly to meet and review terms.
Are Linc Licenses negotiable?
Linc Licenses offer preset, sector-specific financial and business terms that are far below market rate; most of these terms are not negotiable. However, the Linc License is not a narrow, one-size-fits-all agreement. OTM is committed to making the Linc License available to a broad range of technologies and participants, and anticipates working with participants to identify fields of use, commercialization milestones, and other terms that are customized to their business.
I am not interested in participating in IP-Linc, but want to license University intellectual property under the terms of the Linc License. Can I do this?
No. The Linc License is available only to active IP-Linc participants.
What if my team or I already have experience and business knowledge? Is there an accelerated or “lighter-touch” IP-Linc path?
There is no accelerated or “advanced” IP-Linc track. However, one of IP-Linc's defining features is customization to each participant’s needs, experience level, and goals. Each participant's IP-Linc experience will be unique and tailored to maximize benefit to the participant. Participants with more business acumen or experience may well find that they move through the program faster than those who are starting a venture for the first time.