From the Director: Student Entrepreneurship

Are there any challenges unique to student entrepreneurship? If so, how can these obstacles be overcome?

From an intellectual property (IP) perspective, there are two types of students at a university, students who are covered by the institution’s Intellectual Property (IP) Policy and those that are not. At many institutions, as is the case here, graduate students generally are covered while undergraduates are not. I think a major challenge for those students not covered by Emory’s IP policy is finding the resources to analyze both the protectability of the IP and to develop the invention on their own.

Several ways that we suggest students overcome those obstacles is to find one of the many local support resources, and there a lot of them in them in Atlanta, to help entrepreneurs. Another place they can start is Emory’s tech transfer office. Even though we don’t own student IP, we are always happy to have a conversation and to point student entrepreneurs in the right directions regarding the various needs they might have. We’re here to help the entire Emory community when it comes to commercialization.

Todd Sherer, Exec Director Photograph

Todd Sherer, Exec Director

What advice would you give a student entrepreneur?

The number one piece of advice to student entrepreneurs is to clear up IP ownership issues. Students have the tendency to think that if somebody doesn’t own their IP then the issues are different for them than for those with IP that is owned by someone else. In the end the same types of issues exist. If there is more than one individual who owns rights to the IP, then you have to figure out how those individuals are going to work together. These can be complicated arrangements. Addressing these types of issues upfront, decreases the chance that they jeopardize the business opportunity in the future.

How does Emory, and OTT specifically, support student entrepreneurship?

There are many ways the university can help the students. For example with the student run business, Campus Bubble, Emory entered into a contractual arrangement to allow limited use of Emory’s name. Emory’s Student Life Group also contracted with them to do some work and the institution actually became a business partner and not just a licensee. In the end we want to see student entrepreneurs do well. Students become alumni and universities count on alumni support. They also help to foster an innovation culture that benefits everyone.