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I am currently in the half of my PhD in computer science, and I would like to build a start-up from the algorithms I developed. I have doubts whether is the case to involve my advisor in this:

  • If I do it, we could make a university spin-off. In this case my fear is to lose the ownership of the project (I would like to lead the company), and the independence of the company itself from the university (we should in some way be linked with it, I think).
  • If I try to do it independently, I lose the precious logistic help that the univesity can offer; also with university help, I guess it might be easier to find partners or persons who want to collaborate.

So, I am confused on which might be the best way to proceed..

any advice/experience to share?

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    It would really depend on the university infrastructure for start-up spin-offs. Clarkson University and MIT, for example, have significant support for start-up student businesses. Look for a center of entrepreneurship, etc., and you'll be able to learn about the infrastructure which you can utilize there. On your own, the start-up world is terrifying and it's nice to have a safety net from your institution. – Sergio Gucci May 6 '16 at 16:11
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    There is a good chance that the University can lay some claim to your IP if you developed it while working there. Make sure you look into this. – Ric May 6 '16 at 16:34
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First things first, you need to find out whether you even have the option to do it independently of the university. Since you have done your work at the university, the university likely owns at least part or possibly all of the rights to commercialization of your work.

Most universities have somethings like a "Technology Transfer Office" whose goal is to help turn university research into startups and/or licenses to existing companies. These folks are often quite happy to work with you to help clarify the intellectual property situation and to help make connections that can support you in building a spin-out.

  • This is really important. You may think about this as your project because you worked on it, but there is a good chance that (as an employee or student of your university) the university owns parts if the IP anyway. – xLeitix May 6 '16 at 22:18
  • For instance, my grant specifies that the IP is divided 1/3 for me, 1/3 for the host university, and 1/3 for the grant agency... If you have a contract, it is worth checking it – Fábio Dias May 6 '16 at 22:25
  • I am going through similar phase, please keep in mind that if you ever take any help or smallest thing from anyone else like students to write even a app click function /webpage design logo etc. depending on their emotions they can expect to get sizable/unfair share of your startup just because they think it was the most important thing and may undermine your hard work of years.. I'm going through this.. – Phillip Jan 10 '18 at 21:27

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