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Startups and Spinoffs

Startups and Spinoffs

A start-up company is a new business entity that may be formed to commercialise one or more related inventions. It offers an alternative to licensing the invention(s) to an established business.

The choice to set up a start-up is made jointly by the TTO and the inventors. The TTO can assist you in meeting investors, consultants and entrepreneurs who can help plan and found the company.

Things to consider with start-ups:

  • How much risk is involved in developing the invention? Companies in established industries are often unwilling to take much risk.
  • Can investors obtain their needed rates of return in view of the development costs?
  • Is there potential for multiple products or services from the same technology? Few companies survive on one product alone
  • Are the target market and competitive advantage sufficiently large?
  • Are the potential revenues sufficient to sustain and grow a company?

The role of the inventor in a start-up:

  • HKU faculty typically serve as technical consultants, advisors or in some other technical development capacity. Faculty rarely choose to leave the University and join the start-up.
  • Inventors should have agreements regarding their roles in the start-up reviewed by their own counsel so as to understand all personal ramifications, such as taxes and liabilities.
  • HKU employees should not be the representative of the start-up company in negotiations with the TTO to avoid conflict of interest.


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