HOW TO START A SPIN-OFF COMPANY

The establishment of spin-off companies is increasingly becoming a key mechanism of technology transfer.

Spin-offs are start-up companies whose main activities are based on the formal transfer of research results originating from the university or university college. This transfer can take different forms (e.g. a license agreement or share capital participation) depending on the specific case. Up till now more than 30 of these spin-off companies have originated from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. A privileged relationship between a lab and a spin-off is beneficial to the growth of the company, and certainly in its early stages. These agreements can refer, for instance, to rights on future results generated in the lab, the use of equipment and technical support, and the financial conditions for these facilities.

Setting up a spin-off is an iterative process, during which one has to constantly (re-)evaluate earlier decisions based on new information. Nevertheless, some fundamental steps have to be taken and intermediary milestones reached in order to successfully progress towards incorporation, as depicted in the figure below.

spin-off timeline

Preparing for a spin-off? Contact us

If you’re interested in establishing a spin-off, make an appointment with VUB TechTransfer to talk about your idea. It is an adventurous and complex process, during which you’ll need the support and advice of as many skilled professionals as possible.

Know your business
It is not sufficient to have a unique technology. Being a business implies that you produce something for which people are willing to pay. Stop thinking only about technology and start asking: Who are our customers? What is their problem? How do they solve their problem today? Why is our solution better? Many more questions will need to be answered as we move along.

Team up
Starting a spin-off requires a far wider skill set than is traditionally needed in research environments: business strategy, finance, sales and marketing, human resource management, negotiation skills, to name but a few. A team of people from varied backgrounds (scientific, business) is the most ideal situation.

Get business training
If you are a science/engineering researcher you will need some business training. Do it as soon as possible, to widen your horizons early on. The VUB offers a wide variety of educational programmes on entrepreneurship. VUB TechTransfer strongly encourages potential spin-off entrepreneurs to (have) follow(ed) some form of business training. Check here for entrepreneurship education.

VUB TechTransfer and you
VUB TechTransfer is there to help you throughout the process of starting up a venture. But you and your team will need to make it effectively happen: write the business plan, get the funding, run the business... 

Funding

Financing a start-up is yet another challenge entrepreneurs will face. VUB TechTransfer can show the way to different funding schemes offered by public authorities and commercial investors.

Recent project calls for funding. Check here.

Other financial resources

  • the so-called 3F’s: family, fools & friends
  • Business Angels
  • venture capitalists
  • interuniversity Qbic Fund (partner of VUB a.o.)
  • financial institutions
  • government initiatives

Discover the VUB Spin-off portfolio here.

Contact

Jacky Boonen
Business Developer Spin-offs