University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Starting New Companies

UMass Amherst is Bullish on Start-ups!

To help UMass Amherst ideas and inventions benefit the public, and to help grow the economies of Western Mass and the Commonwealth as a whole, UMass Amherst is creating services to help people like you start new companies.

The TTO Is Here To Help!

From patenting your technology to helping establish your company, we serve as a resource to get you off the ground and running. We understand the unique challenges you face in launching a company, especially the financial ones, and thus have tailored our approach to ease your initial financial burdens so that you can focus on developing your products and growing your business. We also understand that entrepreneurship is likely uncharted territory for you, and thus have designed a start-up crash course, which we call the Envisioning Process. The Envisioning Process is customized to your particular company, and we present it you through a series of in-person meetings.

A Low-Cost Option to Your Technology

To give you time to evaluate your markets and customer segments, and to further develop your technology, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) offers you a one-year, nominally priced, exclusive option to license your patent rights. During this option period, we allow you to defer your patent costs, freeing up capital that you can use in your initial business exploration and development. Once your start-up exercises the option, we offer guidance on navigating the licensing process and understanding contract terms.

The “Envisioning Process” Can Help You Launch a Technology Company.

If you make an invention or create software in the course of your UMass research, the TTO’s Envisioning Process can help you turn it into a new business. This tutorial program for faculty members, grad students and postdocs is a series of five meetings in which the TTO provides nuts-and-bolts information and advice about incorporation, defining products and markets, corporate finance and other essentials for starting a technology-based company.

You can sign up for the Envisioning Process by completing and submitting this form to Maryanne Laukaitis ( or your Licensing Officer:  Envisioning Sign-up. Or feel free to give any TTO staff member a call!

An outline of what is discussed at the meetings is here:  Envisioning Outline

The following guides are based on the Envisioning Process:
         How to pick a good company name
         Taking an option to license IP rights from UMA
         What to expect in licensing from UMA

Programs in Development

The TTO is also developing a program to provide initial exposure to the Lean Launchpad methodology, which is at the core of NSF’s I-Corps program. Created by serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, the Lean Lauchpad methodology teaches entrepreneurs to create business hypotheses and to test them with customers by “getting out of the building” and talking to them. By continually refining their products and services through customer feedback, entrepreneurs are more likely to create viable businesses capable of solving their customers’ problems. The success of this approach has been validated by NSF’s I-Corps program, which teaches university scientists and engineers the Lean Launchpad methodology. Teams that have participated in the program have gone on to form over 440 start-ups and raise over $280M from investors. Our own positive experience with UMass companies that participated in I-Corps convinces us that providing exposure and initial training in the Lean Launchpad approach will greatly benefit our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. We hope to launch this program within the next year.