Showing posts from May, 2011

It really isn't the IP policy!

I'm going to have to get back to the Mike Lazaridis speech next time ... today's London Free Press had a big story on me -- very generous in its comments, which I appreciate (I'd provide a link but it's not online). There was one part, though, that has me attributing Waterloo's startup success to the university's IP policy -- which is not only something I don't believe, but something I've been trying to convince people for years is not the case (or, to the degree that it had an effect, is much less direct than the usual stories would have you believe). That was one of the key points I was trying to make in my last post.

The Free Press story correctly has me pointing out that very few of the startups we saw in Waterloo were built around the transfer of IP. In fact, I'd have a difficult time coming up with many startups in Waterloo that were based around technology that would have been institutionally-owned if the underlying research had been performed…

No, most tech startups are not built around new university-based research discoveries

There's a cardboard version of where new tech companies come from and how to generate more startups that I've heard repeatedly over the years—including several times since coming to London.

It goes something like this: research at universities leads to new discoveries (usually patentable), and commercializing these new university-based discoveries is where most startups come from. While some of the more entrepreneurially-minded professors/researchers might build a company around these inventions themselves (especially if the university has an inventor-owned IP policy), often these gems just sit there waiting to be commercialized. What we need to do, therefore, to create more startups is have folks roam the halls looking at research discoveries and figuring out how to build new companies around them and get them funded.

Even in Waterloo, we'd often hear that version of startup creation—never from people who actually worked in the startup support community, but it wasn't a…