startups FAQ

Have questions about the startup process?

We have you covered. Read the following common FAQs from researchers around the University.

I am interested in creating a startup, whom do I contact?

What will we discuss?

  • The pros and cons of starting a company.
  • Whether it makes sense to submit your invention to the UIRF if you have not already done so.
  • Which path makes the most sense for you, after reviewing your invention and defining the product or service you plan to deliver.
  • Available local, regional and national resources.

What happens during the pre-venture and research stage?

  • We work with the founding team to assist in completing market discovery. This is done through the I-Corps Lean Startup process.
  • You will be encouraged to participate in entrepreneurial training and apply for gap funding, as appropriate.
  • We may introduce you to a potential mentor.

What does forming a company entail?

  • Complete a Conflict of Interest Form to update your COI status with the University.
  • Work with outside attorneys to set up the company.
  • We work with you through the process of finding incubation space, developing a business strategy, management team, marketing strategy, financial projections, and more as needed for your particular situation.

What is a Standstill Agreement and why do I need one?

Standstill Agreements provide the exclusive rights to develop your technology for a specified amount of time, usually nine to twelve months. Other benefits include:

  • The UIRF does not pursue other companies or license your technology to someone else.
  • Holds your IP while you continue to develop your venture.
  • It signals your commitment to funding groups that you intend to develop the technology.

What happens next?

  • Before you can sell your product, you will need to complete a license agreement with the UIRF.

Who will be my mentors?

  • We will work with you to find a business mentor and develop a team of both experienced science and business advisors, if needed.
  • Many mentors and advisors are willing to volunteer for a few hours a month to help guide you as you launch your company.

Where do I find additional funding for my startup?

  • Networking events.
  • The Iowa Connect network hosted by UI Ventures.
  • Occasionally, through your mentors.
  • Applications for Iowa state low interest loans, Angel investors, corporate partners, SBIR/STTR grants.
  • Regional investor meetings.

What is my role in fundraising? I have never done this before.

  • We will assist you in developing fundraising skills and materials, including talking points and strategy. You can lead this task, or work with a mentor acting as an “Interim CEO.”
  • After you are prepared, you will have the opportunity to present to local and regional investors.

What happens Post-Launch? What continued support will I get?

  • We will continue to serve as a resource, although you are likely to need our help less and less as your company gains traction.
  • In exchange for the help you have received, we will ask you to help future startups as mentors or advisors.

What is a Confidential Disclosure Agreement/Non-Disclosure Agreement (CDA/NDA) and why do I need one?

This agreement allows an individual or company further access to information about a specified technology within a legal framework restricting any further release of that information to other parties. CDAs/NDAs may be necessary to protect the patentability of your technology, if applicable. Find more information here.

What other startup resources does the University of Iowa provide?

  • UI Ventures: Assists university inventors with creating new ventures based on their research. It provides education and mentoring to advance entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies by linking them with the capital, talent and other critical resources needed for success.
  • Iowa Connect
  • Translational Research Incubator (TRI): a unique business space on the University of Iowa’s campus whose goal is to provide an environment for early, research-based companies to accomplish critical milestones toward commercialization.
  • MERGE: Located in the heart of downtown Iowa City, this facility–launched in Fall 2016–is a hub for entrepreneurs, startup companies, engineers, technology professionals, graphic artists, hackers, students, professionals, and business resources. It includes office and meeting space as well as protostudios, a cutting-edge biomedical and electronics prototyping hub that features 3D modeling software and hardware and electronics equipment.
  • UI Research Park: Leases building sites and space to growing technology companies that require sustained research relationships with the university. Home to a world-class business incubator program that has nurtured nearly 100 UI spinouts and other new ventures since its start in 1984, the park is located just north of Iowa City and within a 15-minute drive of the Eastern Iowa Airport. Here, growing enterprises have access to a state-of-the art business incubator, world-class research facilities and a dynamic faculty of scientists, physicians and engineers at one of the world’s leading public research universities.
  • John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC): A national leader in teaching and supporting innovation and entrepreneurial development, JPEC (run through the Henry B. Tippie College of Business) offers a range of campus and community entrepreneurial development programs, ranging from intensive training and certificate programs to seed funding for Iowa-based technology and high-growth startup companies.
  • State funding resources: A wide range of funding resources are available in Iowa, including through the Iowa Economic Development Authority and its Technology Commercialization Committee (TCC), as well as other agencies. Talk to your UIRF liaison for details.