Spin-off FAQ

Spinning Off FAQ

1. What is a COPELABS Spin-OFF?

It is a new venture that exploits commercially research results and intellectual property developed within COPELABS, by COPELABS associates. A COPELABS spin-off may include external partners or associates.

COPELABS provides support in the form of scientific and technological couching; initial infrastructure conditions; project management assistance, and also access to partner investors.

A COPELABS economic activity spin-off is therefore based on scientific knowledge and/or technological know-how developed within SITILABS, University Lusófona. The COPELABS spin-off starts from a concept or an existing prototype and translates results in a commercial exploitation possibility, e.g. product or service. COPELABS keeps perpetual rights for scientific and academic exploitation.

 

2. What does COPELABS and the University Gain with Spin-offs?

As private, non-profit association dedicated to the dissemination and promotion of interdisciplinary research in the field of Informatics Sciences and Psychology, COPELABS  exploitation and innovation cycle stops in the pre-product stage. Novel knowledge, as well as technology explored and created in COPELABS is therefore developed as proof-of-concept, or for specific customers.

COPELABS and its founder COFAC c.r.l. gain by keeping shares of the created spin-offs, as a way to further invest on science and to see novel concepts develop into commercial possibilities.

 

3. I have an idea based on my work in COPELABS. How do I start the process of proposing a spin-off to COPELABS?

 

See here.

 

4. I never wrote a technological proposal. Where can I start?

Contact cope dash sec at siti1 dot ulusofona dot pt and check our Intranet, Spin-off information. We provide you with initial templates.

 

5. I never did a business plan, nor took care of project management. How can I do this?

Contact copelabs sec mgt at siti1 dot ulusofona dot pt and check our Intranet, Spin-off information. We provide you with initial templates.

6. What about investment?

COPELABS may support specific cases of spin-offs. Moreover, COPELABS  helps you reaching investors both via direct partners or via University Lusófona Entrepreneurship project.

The potential to invest directly is provided by the COPELABS board, based on specific rating for which you have a model here.

 

7. Can I also invest my own funds?

Yes you can. When drafting the cooperation model please specify so, as such element is relevant in terms of shares and equity.

 

8. What is the Legal Entity for a Spin-off of COPELABS ?

Different figures can be considered, being the starting case the figure of private entity based on quotas (sociedade por quotas) which has, at least, 3 partners: COFAC c.r.l; COPELABS, and yourself. Additional partners may be considered, e.g. investors.

 

9. Who Manages the Spin-off?

A Board of directors must include at least: 1 representative from the COPELABS Direction; 1 representative from the COPELABS founders. It may also include investor representatives and University Lusofona representatives. This board takes care of several strategic decisions e.g. large investment; attracting key people; changes to bylaws, etc. The whole process of decision and voting is described by law on the spin-off bylaws.

A specific management team, where you are involved (if you want to) takes care of the daily operational aspects.

 

10. What is the risk of getting involved in a SITILABS spin-off?

The main risks are supported by the investors in the project, namely, COPELABS, and its founder COFAC, as well as by University Lusófona. The spin-off is seen as a COPELABS project, with concrete goals in time and for which a cooperation agreement sets the terms with you. During the time you are with COPELABS this means that the major risk to you is going back to ground zero.

 

11. Which kind of infrastructure does COPELABS provides to the spin-off?

We provide you with initial space assigned to researchers, free of costs, including regular desk space on an open-source environment; phones, webconferencing and fixed as well as wireless networking. Informatics and office equipment; access to fax and printers is also provided. We also provide you with testbed access.

Once the project takes shape, after the first year, the spin-off is moved to the specialized incubator of University Lusófona. A specific agreement is available here. The environment is innovative and stimulating, allowing entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and technologies.

 

12. Can I keep on working in COPELABS and in the spin-off?

The collaboration agreement is set to last between 12 and 18 months, where you and the Direction agree on time to develop the spin-off. This implies that COPELABS supports you financially, by agreeing with you on a model of time reduction. However, to evolve, the spin-off must involve personnel full-time and as such, COPELABS motivates the researchers to consider staying full-time in their spin-offs as soon as possible, assisting in finding potential investors.

 

13. After the spin-off, when and if moving to start-up mode, what happens?

In essence, when COPELABS accepts to host a spin-off project, it supports it until it legally becomes a separate legal entity. The spin-off then operates independently but managed by a board of directors that come from COPELABS, COFAC c.r.l. and University Lusófona. This is a crucial step for the first two years, to assist the spin-off in growing both in a viable way but also in a way that is relevant to COPELABS. After the initial part, the company should be clearly separated from its initial research group.

After 18 months of the spin-off start, its board does an evaluation. Based on that evaluation, COPELABS proposes a specific technology transfer agreement which clearly stipulates what is transferred and what remains with COPELABS, based upon the initial collaboration agreement.

 

14. Competitors within and outside SITILABS - do I run a risk?

In research within the academic context, competition is often assumed to be a high risk. Disclosing innovative ideas in the form of publications or demonstrations is often considered a danger. Nevertheless,  all work developed in COPELABS is protected since inception by Non-Disclosure Agreements, which prevents researchers from "stealing" ideas from others. Moreover, technology developed is also licensed normally following open models. The unit regularly checks also the need to protect material e.g. in the form of patents, or even publications. If required and during the first step of setting the spin-off, your idea (if viable) can be submitted by COPELABS as an IPR. This is subject to a specific IPR ranking within COPELABS - contact the technology transfer section for further details.

Determining whether or not your idea is at risk is not trivial. Some guidelines to assist are:

  • work disseminated e.g. via conferences, journals, is public.
  • Work developed within a project with a specific consortium requires notification of the venture to the consortium.
  • Discussion among COPELABS researchers, in meetings, etc is considered confidential. All COPELABS associates are subject to a Non-Disclosure Agreement which prevents misuse of ideas among researchers.
  • Discussion with elements from ULHT that are not associated with COPELABS does not follow the strict confidentiality enforced to COPELABS associates. You need to check first if there is an NDA in place. Otherwise, COPELABS considers such dissemination of a public scope.

 

15. I am a Student hosted by COPELABS, but not an Associate. Can I still consider spin-off support?

COPELABS supports the notion of spin-off also for students, provided that there is a collaboration agreement previously established with your teaching department.

The list of departments with whom we have a collaboration agreement currently comprises ECATI and EPCV. In the meanwhile contact the Direction for details.

 

 16.What is the difference between a COPELABS spin-off and start-up?

As an R&D unit that has been established in 2010, COPELABS does not support start-ups at this stage. Start-ups shall emerge from successful spinning off projects.

University Lusofona does have an incubator programme - check the University contacts for further details. The differences between these two models, from a SITILABS perspective, are provided in the table next:

  COPELABS spin-off model Start-up
Created by COPELABS Outside COPELABS
Object (technology, service, software) Owned by COPELABS Licensed to the start-up by COPELABS
Supported by COPELABS and partners External entity to COPELABS
Managed by A board of Directors that includes at least 1 representative of the COPELABS direction No relation to the COPELABS direction

 

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