Startups provide the world with new products, new solutions. Often times, this means innovation and introducing new ideas into the marketplace. Since universities have incubated new ideas for hundreds of years, it might seem only natural that they also incubate new businesses, right?
The problems universities often face when trying to incubate new businesses concern resource availability and motivation. The mission of universities is generally to provide education, not new business ventures, and so the people and funding needed to nurture new ventures generally needs to be found elsewhere. As for motivation, the Wall Street Journal recently got to the point: “Academic researchers are typically rewarded for research and publishing, not venture creation, and often have little business experience.”
So why do universities love startups?
Startups can introduce new ideas to the world and change it for the better. They can also mean a lot of money. Acutus Medical, formed in April 2011, raised $26.2 million in September 2014 to help it develop tools for treating complex cardiac arrhythmias. Slack Technologies, formed in March 2009, raised $120 million in October 2014 to help it develop its enterprise collaboration platform. Fostering startups born from some of the cutting-edge research of their students or faculty can lead to royalties, licensing fees, equity stakes, and other reasons for trustees, government officials, and others to appreciate the value of academic research, explains the Wall Street Journal.
This is why universities love startups, and why they have spent decades investing in business incubation programs. Universities and other research institutions created 670 startups in 2011, 705 in 2012, and 818 in 2013, according to the Association of University Technology Managers. Not bad, but with 299 institutions surveyed, couldn’t it be better? Certainly, there must be a better way to connect universities with the people and funding needed to build great ideas, and that’s exactly why we started Ideator.