Starting up start-ups

The old paradigm that professors are hidden away from the so-called real world is changing. The University is now encouraging research professors to use their discoveries to start businesses.

In the last five years, University professors have started 40 businesses based on technology developed in their labs.

Their success has varied wildly. One company, founded by a computer science professor, generated nearly $8 million in licensing fees for the University. The vast majority of others have not generated any revenue for the University.

Transitioning a new technology into a marketable product is a tough business. It takes years to make the technology marketable. And it takes huge investments from venture capitalists to fund the start-up companies until they become self-supporting.

The University, while encouraging the practice, has run into its own challenges – particularly ethical issues.

In this issue, The Minnesota Daily takes an in-depth look at the challenges involved in turning University research into revenue.