What We Do
The formative stages before launching a new technology company typically last 12-18 months. Before launch, a UW Startup Project prepares its market strategy, strengthens its startup team, identifies key milestones toward securing customers or investors, and builds prototypes to support these milestones. CoMotion® provides planning and resources to promote higher-quality startup projects.
CoMotion also makes resources available to young UW Startup Companies through CoMotion Labs. Although a startup opportunity may be compelling enough to launch, it usually faces a challenging period of refining its offering in order to engage early customers and grow toward stability.
By providing a comprehensive system of resources for technology entrepreneurship, we have resources available for other distribution models.
You will meet with your Innovation Development manager discuss the current status of your startup project, and outline the initial plan for developing your idea into a company. This plan will include introducing you to tools like the Lean Canvas, or Design Thinking, helping you to identify markets and leads, and estimating resources and the highest level milestones.
CoMotion mentors can supplement the project team, bringing to bear their experience with company and product development. Our active network of mentors can also advise on specific aspects of a startup project. The mentors give the project teams access to skills and experience to help address all aspects of the startup: team, early customers, product or service definition and development, business model, legal, regulatory.
We at CoMotion engage with the entire UW innovation community, and students are a vital part of our work. In partnership with the Foster School of Business, CoMotion offers a number of exciting opportunities for students at all levels to get real-world experience while completing their degree. We also partner with the UW Law School on their Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, which teams students with pro bono attorneys and business advisors.
A startup company needs to understand the intellectual property (IP) landscape in which it will compete. This includes not only the IP that the startup controls but also IP that the startup will need to license for its product and its competitors' IP. The CoMotion Innovation IP group has broad expertise with copyright, patent, and trademark law. They can perform patent landscape analyses to understand the competitive space, and they work with outside counsel and the project team to define a strong IP strategy for this opportunity. As a standing client with several law firms, the Innovation IP group is able to oversee the quality and costs of the IP portfolio while the project team is working toward company launch.
Marketing strategy includes both a top-down analysis of markets that the product or service could be sold into and a bottom-up development of specific early customers. It is essential that the project team lead in developing relationships with customers, but they can be helped in preparing for these meetings and in understanding the larger markets by MBA fellows and interns, and at times by professional consultants.
To create a technology startup company with good prospects for growth and success, the startup team has to find a business model that effectively engages first customers. This is an iterative process of developing relationships with potential customers, defining the minimum viable product they need, and evaluating the competitiveness of this offering. There are several resources available to support this work.
We recommend the Lean Canvas, a planning document that organizes this iterative activity. The Lean Canvas presents the essential elements of the business model for a technology startup on a single page. In addition, we have resources to guide the team in creating customer surveys to engage with their market.
CoMotion Innovation Development managers work with the project teams to identify projects that require an advanced product design. When your project is ready for this step, the managers can work with your team to identify possible sources of funding and introduce you to local designers to explore and develop a compelling product.
Among the gap funding programs available for commercialization, our Innovation Fund emphasizes understanding customers and working towards a minimum viable product. As part of the Innovation Fund process, we provide the project team coaching, expert advisors, and other resources to address initial planning, customer development, product design, refinement of the business model, team building, IP strategy, and honing your pitch.
When they see an opportunity to accelerate a team and technology, the CoMotion Innovation Development managers will invite graduate students to apply for our highly competitive fellows program to explore commercialization in their fields of study. Strong preference is given for graduating PhD students. Each commercialization fellow will work closely with both their faculty advisor and the CoMotion project team to advance commercialization activities and project development.
Regulatory and reimbursement analysis is essential in moving technologies like medical devices, diagnostics or therapeutics forward. Through the Innovation Gap Fund, and the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, CoMotion sources outside consultants to help project teams address these critical issues.
Startup licenses have a number of unique components. In order tofacilitate discussions with our startup teams, CoMotion has created a process and set of documents that describe the elements and requirements for startup license discussions. We have created standard templates for the startup term sheet and license and an explanation of the terms within the templates. The simplified and standardized terms of this license template have been vetted by a panel of attorneys from several local law firms. Through our Innovation Development managers and advisory boards we provide the startup teams with background information on the various parts of the license agreement. See our Licensing FAQs
In keeping with University of Washington’s pride in being a public university, CoMotion is committed to a fair and transparent process that treats all UW startup teams* equally, whether founding teams are comprised of new students or award-winning senior professors, and independent of the experience level of their business person or lawyer. This ensures each UW startup team is able to finalize their license agreement efficiently, with minimum legal fees, and with confidence that the terms in the license are both standard for their industry sector and investable. The term sheet includes standard financial terms for university startup licenses that have been vetted, are comparable with our peers, and based on sector-appropriate comparable data. CoMotion welcomes teams to bring their own industry-specific data to the discussion. Finalization of the term sheet is a data-driven process that ensures all stakeholders are considered. See our Term Sheet Negotiation Process.
*UW startup teams are those founded by the UW students, professors, and employees that developed the innovation.
We are pleased to share a new CoMotion agreement template tailored for startup companies based on University of Washington intellectual property. This template was put together with the generous guidance and comments from an expert advisory committee comprised of top attorneys in the Seattle-area innovation ecosystem who pre-negotiated the language with the goal of creating an agreement that requires only technology-specific customization. This new template simplifies and expedites the licensing process for our UW innovators and entrepreneurs and demonstrates a collaborative effort towards streamlining and enhancing our innovation ecosystem.
CoMotion would like to sincerely thank the start-up template advisory committee members for their participation and support: Sonya Erickson, Cooley; David Clarke, Perkins Coie; John Steel, DLA Piper; Joe Wallin, Carney Badley Spellman; Craig Sherman, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; and Parag Gheewala, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
UW startups can participate in the CoMotion Labs located in at CoMotion HQ, Fluke Hall, and Startup Hall. The unique benefits of this business incubator include ongoing access to CoMotion programs, proximity to the UW research base, and participation in a community comprised of UW entrepreneurs.
The CoMotion Innovation Investments group will help UW startups identify and apply for outside commercialization grants. The "valleys of death" for technology startups between funding for basic research and ongoing development have long been recognized, and many federal agencies and non-profit foundations make grants available to help technology startups succeed. These translational or commercialization grants provide the startups with non-dilutive funding, and they maintain working ties between the startup and UW research group.
Companies that license UW intellectual property through CoMotion can factually state that they have a license from the University of Washington in public announcements and materials. Use of department, school, or other unit specific names requires approval from the applicable unit. Use of logos also requires prior approval. To request approval to use the CoMotion logo contact: license@UW.edu. To request approval to use the University of Washington or UW Medicine logo contact: licensing@UW.edu.
When using their University of Washington title, UW faculty and staff can make factual public statements about companies and products. University of Washington faculty members and employees cannot use their University of Washington title to make a statement that endorses a company or a product. This includes when the faculty member or employee is a founder, consultant, or employee of a company. Please reach out to your department or school to seek approval in advance for quotes you wish to include in any public statement or on a website.
"Company X reports that as a result of its game-changing study conducted in collaboration with the University of Washington, thousands of lives will be saved through the use of its amazing drug XX. Note: As an alternative, it would be acceptable to say something like “A study conducted by Company X and the University of Washington included 15 study participants and recently-published results showed a 10% decrease in XX symptoms.”
"Company X and Dr. Smith, world-renowned doctor at the University of Washington, just announced they are partnering to study cures for blood disorders using Company X’s new drug. Note: As an alternative, it would be acceptable to say something like “Company X and the University of Washington will be conducting a study regarding the use of cell engineering techniques to treat certain blood disorders.”
When preparing to issue a team, company or joint press release, be sure to let your CoMotion Innovation Manager know well in advance so that our marketing team can review it and prepare to amplify it. There are two things that should be included in your press release:
1. Mention of how UW CoMotion supported your project or company, and refer to CoMotion as "the University of Washington’s collaborative innovation hub". For example: "CoMotion, the University of Washington’s collaborative innovation hub, supported the work through patent filing and strategy, a CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund grant for support of early commercialization activities, and letters of support for other funding. CoMotion worked diligently with the company in completing its licensing of exclusive rights to the X (where X is, e.g, a compound, software, curriculum, etc)."
2. Include the following Boilerplate at the bottom of the press release:
About the University of Washington and CoMotionRanked by Reuters as the #1 most innovative public university in the world, the University of Washington (UW) is a leading recipient of federal funding research, producing innovations that have the power to change the world—from biofuel alternatives, to more effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and brain cancer, to purification technology for drinking water in the developing world. CoMotion at the UW is the collaborative innovation hub dedicated to expanding the economic and societal impact of the UW community. By developing and connecting to local and global innovation ecosystems, CoMotion helps innovators achieve the greatest impact from their ideas and discoveries. Find more information at https://comotion.uw.edu.
We want to spread the good news about your project or company! When you post to (or share a post on) social media, be sure to include CoMotion's handles in the body of your post, or in the comments when sharing. When you do, we will see we have been tagged and will share your post. Our handles are: @UWCoMotion on Twitter, @UW.CoMotion on Facebook, @uwcomotion on Instagram and LinkedIn. For CoMotion supported projects, we also use the #CoMotionSupported hashtag if possible. You can also supply us with copy and images to post -- be sure to include any relevant handles if you do.
Other ways we may help amplify your news include writing a blog post, including your news in our newsletter, posting your news to the News section of our website, sharing with UW channels, or depending on its newsworthiness, we may even pitch to reporters at media outlets such as UW News, Geekwire, Xconomy, Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Times, Crosscut and others.
Jeanette Ennis supports UW researchers pursuing grant money to commercialize their innovations, and helps CoMotion secure economic development grant opportunities. Ennis joined CoMotion in 2009 after more than 15 years of broad research experience as a scientist, entrepreneur, and manager. Her areas of expertise include pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology, tissue engineering, and medical devices. She has worked with a variety of start-up companies as project manager, grant writer, and intellectual property manager, and held senior research positions at Cornell University and the UW Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. She earned a doctorate in medical and molecular pharmacology from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she trained with Louis Ignarro, Nobel Laureate in Physiology. She also holds a certificate in technical writing and editing from the UW Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering.