The Postdoc Program Allowing Startups to Take Flight
Often, when entrepreneurs envision ideas for new and unproven products and markets, they require some time and specialized guidance to fully develop their ideas. They need a bit of a “runway” to take off, especially when the startup is based on deep tech or in a highly regulated industry. That’s where Runway Startup Postdoc Program at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech comes in.
A peer-reviewed paper detailing the unique aspects of the Runway Startup Postdoc Program was recently published in The Journal of Technology Transfer, the research within showing how a university startup postdoc track can be an effective channel for technology transfer and provide a realistic new career option for PhD graduates.
The Runway program at the Jacobs Institute is parts business school, research institution, and startup incubator — which allows recent PhD recipients to get the support they need to create their own companies and transition from academia to entrepreneurship. The program provides participants with both academic and business mentorship, as well as funding, benefits, and corporate support to help them get their ideas off the ground.
The Runway Startup Postdoc Program has a unique recruitment process which ensures candidates are committed to starting a company before they are selected, an innovative IP model which allows postdocs to exclusively have the rights to use their technology, and a financial model that gives ownership of the company — as well as other perks — to the postdocs in exchange for a small stake in their companies being given to the Jacobs Institute.
Written by Founder and former Director of Runway Uzi de Haan, former Co-Manager of Runway Shuli C. Shwartz, and Director of Runway and Spinouts Fernando Gómez-Baquero, the paper, “A startup postdoc program as a channel for university technology transfer: the case of the Runway Startup Postdoc Program at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech,” explains how these elements, and more, have helped participants in the program to found successful companies and the additional benefits this type of program brings to a university setting.
According to Haan, Schwartz, and Gómez-Baquero’s research, some of the advantages of a formal and recognized university startup postdoc program such as the Runway Startup Postdoc Program — as opposed to individual initiatives for spinouts by scientist founders — are:
- Formalizing academic entrepreneurship and adding to the diversity of entrepreneurship programs, by lowering the barriers for the rapid transformation of technology into marketable products.
- Complementing, enhancing, and incorporating Technology Transfer Office (TTO) supported technology transfer, promising a higher success rate because of the organized, transformative learning, the committed postdoc top talent, and access to university networks and resources.
- Allowing a sustainable company to be built within the first two years following a technology invention, irrespective of the type of technology.
- Offering a new approach to postdoc training for non-academic career options and offers faculty the opportunity to learn and get engaged in applied research and research commercialization as part of their education and research missions.
To learn more about the Runway Startup Postdoc Program model, read the full paper here.