How Should We Value the University Assets?

 Workshop May 2011

Specialists from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) visited Aveiro to present some of the best current practices in negotiation and valuation of assets created within academic contexts, such as new products, services and new start-ups. The workshop was titled «Valuation of Intangibles – Valuation of Licensing Opportunities and Early Stage Companies» and took place at the Technology Transfer Unit (UPTEC) of the Universidade de Aveiro on 10th and 11th May, 2011.

The debates covered various aspects such as capital gains, the benefits that universities can gain from start-ups and the importance of attracting entrepreneurial investors. How universities approach investors to request funding or their ability to develop business plans for new start-up companies were some of the themes discussed over the two days. Tara Branstad and Barbara Carryer, both specialists in entrepreneurialism and technology transfer at CMU, presented different models of business strategies that coincide with the objectives of the new companies and also capitalise on and optimise the advantages of inventions or creations developed at universities.

Through his own personal experience from creating five successful companies Raymond F. Vennare, the president and CEO of ThermalTherapeutic Systems, an entrepreneur and investor, demonstrated real life examples. He demonstrated how an investor or professor should present their product and/or business in terms of competitive advantages, market differentiation, the costs involved (direct and indirect), expectations and valuation – a concrete number that shows the company’s potential and their future returns. This plays a fundamental role in raising funds and in the negotiating processes with investors.

Barbara Carryer, an Adjunct Professor in entrepreneurialism and innovation advisor at the Institute of Social Innovation at CMU, highlighted how entrepreneurialism has become more apparent in universities: “the youths of today have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and we therefore need to look to the senior researchers because they are the ones that do not come looking for us as frequently”.

 Workshop May 2011 group

Close to 40 individuals attended the workshop including young entrepreneurs, managers of technology transfer offices at universities, professors and researchers, as well as start-up companies and large companies such as Treat U and PT Inovação respectively. The workshop looked at various case studies on subjects such as licensing processes, protecting individual property rights and valuation for start-up companies, approaching the different variables involved that are relevant for each subject. 

This initiative was organised by the UTEN Portugal network in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Programme and aims to raise awareness of the importance of adequate valuation and evaluation of tangibles for start-up companies and the information that is required for this process.

In addition to sharing CMU’s knowledge and experience in this area, the workshop was also an opportunity to encourage flexibility in evaluation and valuation processes for tangible assets. It presented various methods to help universities maximise the profits on their inventions and research results, for example through raising capital, licensing, joint-ventures or sales.

This workshop is part of a group of initiatives that was launched in 2009 within the framework of the UTEN Portugal network to strengthen knowledge and competencies in technology transfer and the commercialisation of technology in Portugal in an international context.

May 2011