North Shore Innoventures (NSIV) held its monthly Innoventures U program last week and was fortunate to have several experts lead a highly interactive session about the licensing process and suggestions for entrepreneurs.
Hemmie Chang – a partner and Chair of the Licensing & Strategic Alliances Group at Foley Hoag – provided members with an overview of current licensing environment while Jim Freedman – a Technology Licensing Officer for MIT – gave an inside look at the process within the university’s Technology Transfer office. NSIV’s own Sue Long – a former VP of Business Development at Genzyme also offered her view of the licensing process from “the other side of the table.”
The session allowed members to get deeper insight in to what types of licensing agreements are being struck and the major differences between licensing with other companies and with research establishments such as universities. Ms. Chang pointed to areas where entrepreneurs should be careful in terms of both protecting their own intellectual property and maintaining clear and productive relationships with their licensing partners. She encouraged entrepreneurs to think long term and consider not only the future continuance of the agreement, but also how to unravel it when and if the time comes to part ways with those partners.
Mr. Freedman shared the general licensing process with the group by presenting the life cycle from initial outside inquiry, to matching with the right academic resources within MIT and on through to agreement negotiation and execution. He also fielded multiple questions from those in attendance regarding the typical fees entrepreneurs could expect. Mr. Freedman also addressed questions regarding the structure of the typical deals struck at MIT including the Financial, Milestone / Due Diligence, and IP implications of both the licensed technology and any improvements made over time by the licensee.
Ms. Long explained how companies such as Genzyme rely on licensed technologies from entrepreneurial ventures to keep their own pipelines moving forward. A clear example of this is the fact that of all the drugs marketed by Genzyme, only one was actually developed fully in-house.
Innoventures U is a monthly education curriculum that prepares technology-based entrepreneurs with skills and resources to successfully prepare and grow their company. This forum is structured to cover business basics and to prepare company leaders to effectively plan and pitch to investors and/or customers. Topics include both typical start-up subjects as well as new and emerging trends in the business world affecting new companies.