A program, group, or individual who connects startups with mentors, resources, funding. Builds upon the start-up’s foundations (already having an idea or business model in place) in order to advance their growth.
The following are examples of accelerators in the bioscience/technology development realm:
- Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED): “[C]onnects entrepreneurial companies with high-value resources to accelerate business growth. Since 1984, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) has cultivated the entrepreneurial ecosystem, turning the Triangle into a leading hub for company growth and success.”
- NC Biotech: “[Their] mission is to accelerate life science technology-based economic development through innovation, commercialization, education, and business growth…[by connecting] companies with university researchers and introduce entrepreneurs to potential funders.”
An individual who provides capital to a business start-up, usually in exchange for shares or partial ownership of the company. Invests may be one-time or ongoing, depending on need.
The following are examples of NC-based angel investor groups:
- Piedmont Angel Network (PAN): “[A] series of committed capital angel funds that focus on investment opportunities in early-stage companies that present high growth opportunities. PAN’s three funds invested in 28 companies from 2002 to 2016, with a primary focus on the life science, technology, software, and advanced materials fields.”
- Triangle Angel Partners (TAP): “[An angel fund that] was formed in 2011 by [a] set of leaders who were aware of the value their expertise and capital could bring to local entrepreneurs in high-tech start-ups…TAP members give companies more than just capital; they also provide counseling, mentoring and access to an extensive network of potential investors, customers, strategic partners and management talent.”
Utilizing social media and online groups to gather small amounts of capital from multiple people in order to fund an idea. This is known as alternative finance.
The following are two popular crowdfunding websites for science projects:
- Consano: “[C]ollaborates with development and research administration offices at a variety of research institutions to source high quality and internally reviewed research projects.”
- Experiment: “[A]n online platform for discovering, funding, and sharing scientific research… [Experiment is composed of] a team of scientists, designers, and technologists passionate about helping ideas grow.”
Dilutive vs. Non-Dilutive Funding
Describes whether or not the investor in your project gets the right to some of your business equity and profits (called “dilutive” because your equity and profit is diluted by their investment) or does not get any of your equity or current or future profits (called non-dilutive because your equity does not get diluted by their investment). You can set aside some shares to not be diluted by a dilutive investment so that you do not lose ownership of your company.
Examples of dilutive vs. non-dilutive funding are:
- Dilutive: Angel investors, venture capital, potentially your friends and relatives depending upon what arrangement you make with them.
- Non-Dilutive: SBIR/STTR, loans, winning a contest (in most cases), personally financing it.
A plan by the entrepreneur to sell their ownership in the company to another company or investors. Usually detailed in the initial business plan, prior to starting the business.
The following articles detail potential exit strategies:
The different stages of funding available for startups, which include seed/angel funding, as well as Series A/B/C funding or additional. Series funding rounds typically align with optimization (Series A), building (Series B), and scaling (Series C).
The following articles detail series funding, as well as additional funding types:
An organization that accelerates the growth and success of startups by providing support and services such as physical workspace, shared facilities, guidance, and funding.
The following are examples of incubators:
- First Flight: “[Supports] the launch of bioscience, life science, medical device, and information technology companies by providing the tailored resources, guidance, and connections required for sustained commercial success.”
- ThePink Ceiling: Led by Cindy Eckert, who started two health-related companies, her Pinkubator supports women-focused business ideas with funding and information.
A point at which the focus in a business changes in a major way, for example, when a startup goes from developing and proving the product to serving the customer’s needs and marketing. If you only enjoy the science development phase, this inflection point may be a time to consider selling the company.
The following are examples of inflection points:
- When you develop partnerships
- Make a key hire
- Obtain major funding
- Commit to the requirements of a paying customer, etc.
A collection of ideas and concepts; the ownership of ideas. Can be protected through patents, trademarks, or copyrights.
The following are locations where you can learn more about intellectual property protection in the United States:
- United States Patient and Trademark Office: “The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks.”
- U.S. Copyright Office: “The U.S. Copyright Office promotes creativity and free expression by administering the nation’s copyright laws and by providing impartial, expert advice on copyright law and policy for the benefit of all.”
A presentation of a business idea to a potential investor. Can be a formal presentation, a conversation, or a written document. Related Term: Elevator Pitch – A briefer version of a pitch, good for use in a networking situation. Named after the short time you have during a quick elevator ride.
The following are resources to use when creating your pitch:
- Five Ways a Biotech Can Get an Elevator Pitch Right. Highlights ways in which the elevator pitch is important and five elements to keep in mind to get your elevator pitch right.
- Going Up! Elevator Pitches for Scientists: Highlights the key elements of an elevator pitch and provides several award-winning examples.
- How To Pitch A Startup – 17 Things You Need To Know: Written by a senior marketing manager at Cox Communications, includes 17 things to keep in mind when pitching a startup to potential investors.
Capital that initially starts a new business or idea, attained from individual assets, family/friends, venture capitalists, or angel investors. Seed investors often gain a stake in the business as a result of funding the start-up. The NIH’s SBIR and STTR programs are a major source of seed funding in the United States.
The following are articles that detail how to determine the necessity of seed funding and how to find it::
- How To Raise Seed Capital And Grow Your Startup: Gives an overview of seed funding, as well as how to approach acquiring such investments.
- Is Seed Funding The Right Answer For Your Startup?: Written by a seed-stage investor, helps entrepreneurs determine if seed funding is the right approach when setting up their business.
Technology Transfer Office
These university offices are responsible for the commercialization and transfer of technology that occurs in the university. They facilitate bringing these research developments to the market. It is important to protect your intellectual property early in the process of starting a business.
The following are examples of technology transfer offices in universities and related organizations:
- The Office of Licensing and Ventures, Duke University: “Mission: Through our partnerships with faculty, industry, entrepreneurs and investors, ensure that Duke innovations reach the marketplace for the benefit of society and to enable future investment in Duke research and innovation”
- The Office of Research Commercialization, NC State University: “The Office of Research Commercialization (ORC) plays a crucial role in this by protecting and promoting University research discoveries and intellectual property, working with and guiding industry partners, and promoting the acceleration of startups. We’re driving economic growth by facilitating the commercialization of research discoveries.”
- AUTM (formerly the Association of University Technology Managers): A non-profit engaged in supporting professionals in the developing academic research “that changes the world and drives innovation forward.” Members work at universities, centers, hospitals, businesses, and government organizations around the world. The organization works with commercial partners leading to the creation of products, services, and start-ups. Support for members is wide-ranging from corporate engagement to intellectual property protection.
Valley of Death (Funding)
This is the time from the initial funding received by a startup company until it starts generating revenue, when it is difficult to obtain funding because the product and business are not yet proven but money is still being spent to develop the product, obtain any approvals needed, and market it. The name comes from the fact that this is when many startups fail.
The following are examples of ways to span the funding Valley of Death successfully:
- Accumulate money ahead of time.
- Keep a source of income until you are through this period.
- Consider crowd funding
- Seek business grants and enter contests
- Obtain loans or lines of credit
- Seek funding from friends and family
- Join an incubator for startups that offers cash, resources, and/or consulting
- Barter service for service
- Form a joint venture with an organization that benefits from your product
- Commit to your major customer and offer perks such as meeting their requirements.
Funds provided to a startup that is seen as having long-term grown potential. Controlled by an individual or group, these investments are made in return for large ownership of the business and is expected to have a high rate of return.
The following are examples of bioscience/biomedical venture capitalists in North Carolina:
- Golden Pine Ventures: “The company’s mission is to aggressively seek out biotechnology and biomedical opportunities developed by leading researchers and grow them into valuable businesses.”
- Pappas Capital: “For nearly 25 years [they] have been investing in and building innovative companies that are developing the next generation of life science products and technologies.”
Electronic Research Administration (eRA) Commons
The online NIH administration website for interacting with granting agencies throughout the life of a grant, from application to final reporting.
A document published by Health and Human Services (HHS) describing the funding opportunities they offer for support of small businesses having technical ability to do research that meets the missions of their agencies on the topics described in the document.
The full names of the documents and locations are:
- PHS 2020 Omnibus Solicitation of the NIH, CDC and FDA for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant Applications (Parent SBIR [R43/R44], with different versions if A Clinical Trial Is Not Allowed) vs. if A Clinical Trial Is Required)
- Similarly, there are Omnibus Solicitations for Small Business Technology Transfer Grants (STTR) if A Clinical Trial Is Not Allowed) vs. if A Clinical Trial Is Required)
Other Glossaries of Research Terms
The Glossaries for the NIH and NSF are:
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
(SBIR/STTR are programs of the federal government that provide seed funds to small businesses to support research and development with potential for commercialization.
The distinctions between SBIR and STTR are:
- SBIR funds small early stage businesses that are developing and want to commercialize innovative biomedical technologies.
- STTR fund small businesses that are developing and want to commercialize innovative biomedical technologies in collaboration with a non-profit research institution. The business must perform at least 40% of the work and the research institute must perform at least 30%.