What is a spinout?
One commercialisation pathway which may be suitable for your invention is via a spinout company — a stand-alone legal entity, capable of attracting external investment, that produces and sells products and services to make money. Setting up a spinout business can be rewarding, and many academics enjoy the experience of being closely involved with a business. However, it is important to note that setting up a spinout company is time-consuming and can divert your time away from your research.
What are the advantages of a setting up a spinout?
A spinout company could be the optimum vehicle for the practical application of your research and a way to evidence the social, environmental and economic impact of your work. Spinouts can be a channel to flex entrepreneurial ambition, through exposure to real-world business environments, and may even provide an alternative career path. Note that researchers intending to remain employees of the University would need various consents from the University to participate in a spinout company.
Over time, and with a lot of hard work, spinout companies can provide a financial return, as well as conferring both status and recognition on those involved. A spinout can also reward your research group as a whole, for example, by providing employment to recent graduates or via new avenues for research and collaboration.
Business and management skills are needed for developing a strategy and setting up the spinout initially, as well as subsequently running the business. It is important that suitable executive skills are identified and procured early on in the process.
It is important to understand the legal implications for those involved in in a spinout company, weighing up of the potential benefits against the risk.