The University of Washington is aiming to make it easier for spinouts to get out of the research lab and into the market.
This week the UW unveiled Husky FAST Start, a new licensing process meant to speed up startup license discussions. The launch coincides with the 40th anniversary of the landmark Bayh-Dole Act, which gave federally-funded U.S. universities more control over technology licensing.
The UW worked with a panel of attorneys to create a standardized template for term sheets and license agreements that can be used by UW students, professors, and employees who develop innovations and want to spin out a startup. The templates are intended to shorten the negotiation process and reduce negotiation costs.
A pilot version of Husky FAST Start has already been used by 35 startups.
“With benchmarked terms, founders can focus on what really matters: building a great team and taking their innovation to market,” Fiona Wills, UW associate vice provost for innovation development and commercialization at CoMotion, said in a statement.
The UW has spun out 73 startups over the past five years. There are currently 103 active UW spinouts in Washington state that employ more than 4,000 people.
Last year, Reuters crowned the UW as the most innovative U.S. public university. The UW also ranked No. 1 in 2018 among public universities for the amount of federal money spent annually on research and development.
The UW moved up two spots to No. 8 in the latest ranking of Best Global Universities from U.S. News & World Report, beating out such prestigious institutions as Princeton, Yale and Johns Hopkins. The UW held onto its No. 2 ranking among U.S. public institutions and also landed in the top 10 in several subject areas that were ranked, including computer science.
CoMotion handles the university’s technology transfer process, helping UW researchers launch startups and secure patents for their discoveries. It originally started in 2009 as the Center for Commercialization (C4C).
CoMotion has faced challenges in the past few years. In 2017, CoMotion laid off 15% of its staff, a move attributed to the expiration of some money-generating UW technology patents. Last year, Vikram Jandhyala, UW’s former vice provost of innovation who took over CoMotion in 2014, passed away. In 2019 CoMotion also closed public access to its MakerSpace and shrank its headquarters.