What a spin-off is?
According to definition it’s a company which is established for utilizing scientific results of a research institute financed by a university or non-profit company. In this case the university (or research centre) and an external management which is managing the new product production are the two main stakeholders.
A company can be a spin-off company if:
· it was founded by a public institution or an employee of a university.
· it acquired its technology from a university or from other public research institutes in a licence agreement
· a university or any other national research laboratory is a shareholder in it (has capital investment in it)
· was founded by a public research institute with scientific research result(s)
A bit of spin-off history
The birth of the modern university spin-off companies is related to Stanford University Office of Technology Licensing and to its founder Niels Reimers. He has recognized the poor profitability of utilizing university’s scientific results and decided to fundamentally change the way of utilization.
The new method with proactive marketing tools brought impressive results in nearly a decade. The ‘method of synthesizing a musical sound’ patent and the ‘Process for producing biologically functional molecular chimeras’ patent during the protection time of the patents brought hundreds of millions of dollars for the licensor university.
If you are interested in Stanford’s story, then you can find more details about it here: http://otl.stanford.edu/about/about_history.html
In Hungary the Act CXXXIV of 2004 on Research and Development and Technology Innovation has launched the institutional form of research utilization (technology transfer) at universities with allowing the foundation of companies for utilization.
Foundation and management of a spin-off company requires 3 main actors basically:
1. a researcher or research institute with a utilizable with scientific research result(s)
2. a technology transfer office, which controls and manages the technology transfer process
3. management which runs the business
All of the above mentioned functions are important and requires different types of professional knowledge and approach therefore these areas are usually managed by 3 different professionals or institutes.
For researchers founding a spin-off is the best way to convert scientific results into profitable businesses.
However it is very useful for external companies also, to look up scientific centres using modern technology transfer methods, because it will be possible for them to use the most modern solutions with co-founding a company or buying a licence.
Spin-off companies of the University of Pécs: