From the spark of an idea to a company: The startup process at the University of Cincinnati

Inspiration comes in many forms. It is an unconscious burst of energy in any endeavor. At the University of Cincinnati, we help entrepreneurs take their ideas and mold them into companies. Through a team of UC staff, entrepreneurs in residence, mentors and technical experts, we provide you with knowledge, talent and resources to accelerate your path to success. 

1. Disclose your idea.

If you’re a University of Cincinnati faculty member, staff member or student, your first step is to submit a disclosure form to the technology transfer team, which will evaluate the submission for its uniqueness, technical feasibility, the ability to protect the idea and market potential. If the idea has merit, then you will be invited to submit a brief application to the Venture Lab Pre-Accelerator program. 

Individuals who are not currently employed at or attending the University of Cincinnati do not need to submit a disclosure first. 

2. Apply to the Pre-Accelerator program.

Our Pre-Accelerator program, run by UC Venture Lab staff, helps inventors explore the commercialization potential of their novel business concept. We connect you with seasoned industry professionals and resources, as well as vital knowledge to fast-track concepts. 

We then provide access to University of Cincinnati and state of Ohio grant funding to those innovative ideas with significant startup potential. We work with researchers, faculty, staff, students, corporate partners and community members throughout the Tri-State region.

Through the Pre-Accelerator program, you can explore the commercial potential of your product or service concept. There is no cost to participate, but it is a competitive process. 

Applications will be reviewed and scored, and if the startup idea has potential, the inventor and their team members will be invited to participate in the eight-week program. Coursework includes topics such as market evaluation, value propositions and storytelling. 

At the conclusion of the course, the inventor and their team will present to a group of entrepreneurs in residence (EIRs), subject matter experts, a commercialization committee and potential investors. In rapid five-minute presentations, each team will share their big idea, why it matters and what connections and technical help they need to launch as a startup. 

3. Form a team with an EIR.

EIRs are accomplished founders and/or industry experts who have a wide range of experience and industry interests. More than mentors, they have the passion, energy and experience to take a rough idea from concept to company formation and product launch. EIRs have practical experience leading businesses, working with customers and building products in a fast-paced environment.  

Venture Lab teams work with mentors and EIRs each week during the Pre-Accelerator. Through this process, teams find the right EIR to continue on the journey with them toward creating a startup and raising capital.

The EIR’s role is designed to be flexible in order to map the skills of the individual to a particular invention. The EIR takes responsibility for leading the team to successful deliverables and outcomes as they progress through the program. 

After further investigation, if the EIR and team believe there is a potential opportunity to form a startup, then the EIR leads the team in developing the roadmap, budget and pitch for funding. 

The EIR will often become the CEO upon formation of a startup company — or will help recruit one.