IP and Entrepreneurship Language for Grant Applications

Dear Columbia Researchers,

Increasingly, grant applications (whether Federal, Foundation, or from Industry) contain questions about Columbia’s policies and practices around entrepreneurship, intellectual property, technology transfer, interuniversity collaborations, or similar topics. Columbia Technology Ventures, Columbia Entrepreneurship, and Columbia's Office of the Executive Vice President for Research, have partnered to gather sample answers to the most common variants of these questions, which are now available for Columbia researchers to simply copy and paste (or edit as you see fit) into grant applications if it would be helpful. We will keep the data up-to-date, so that the versions at this link will always be the most current.  

If you have any questions about the below clauses, suggestions for how they could be improved, or ideas on other commonly-asked questions that could benefit from sample answers, please email us at [email protected].


Orin Herskowitz
Executive Director, Columbia Technology Ventures
Senior Vice President for Applied Innovation and Industry Partnerships


Table of Contents

Please provide an overview of the tech transfer capabilities at Columbia

As the technology transfer office for Columbia University, Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) is responsible for many of the technology development initiatives, entrepreneurial activities, external industry collaborations, and commercially-oriented multidisciplinary collaborations across the University.  CTV’s core mission is to facilitate the transfer of inventions from academic research labs to the market for the benefit of society on a local, national, and global basis. Each year, CTV manages more than 350 invention disclosures, 100 license deals, and 20+ new IP-backed startups, involving over 750 inventors across Columbia's campuses. CTV currently has over 1,200 patent assets available for licensing, across research fields such as biology, information technology, clean technology, devices, big data, nanotechnology, materials science, and more. 

Columbia Technology Ventures has a particular focus on startup companies. Over the years, CTV has been involved with launching well over 200 companies based on Columbia's intellectual property, many of which have received professional venture capital funding, are in the process of getting acquired, or held an IPO.      

CTV has extensive experience founding and supporting technology initiatives to enable promising technologies to accelerate across the “valley of death” and reach the market as quickly and successfully as possible. Many of these initiatives are explicitly multi-institutional, requiring extensive collaboration with our peer universities and their technology transfer offices. A few of the organizations CTV has been instrumental in establishing are the PowerBridgeNY clean energy proof-of-concept center, the NYC Media Lab, the Columbia-Coulter Translational Research Partnership, and the Columbia Translational Therapeutics Accelerator.  For more information visit: http://techventures.columbia.edu/inventors/columbia-lab-market-accelerator-network

How does the tech transfer office manage inventions?

CTV’s efforts are backed by more than 40 full-time staff, including eight Technology Licensing Officers (TLOs), and an additional 30+ graduate student interns (CTV Fellows), providing broad support to the Columbia community and other stakeholders with marketing, legal (patents, contracts, etc.), business startup help, and administrative tasks. CTV also runs an Executive-in-Residence program, which brings seasoned industry executives, serial entrepreneurs, and investors to campus to support faculty and student entrepreneurial activities. For more information visit: http://techventures.columbia.edu/about-ctv/ctv-executives-residence

Each new invention reported to Columbia Technology Ventures is assigned to a TLO who coordinates all aspects of evaluating, patenting, marketing, and licensing of an invention. Each invention is evaluated for commercial potential and patentability.  This assessment process is performed by CTV along with patent counsel. 

Next, CTV will prepare a non-confidential package of information – this typically consists of a one-page summary of pertinent details related to the invention, as well as any publicly available documents, such as a scientific publication and published patent application or patent.  In addition to posting on various online exchanges, CTV will also share these materials with relevant companies and/or investors who are identified through its market research, networking activities, and/or prior business transactions.  

CTV aims to ensure that Columbia technology is licensed to capable business partners whose objectives for commercialization of the technology are aligned with the University’s mission.  CTV’s licensing strategy is based on a variety of market-based factors, and ultimately may take the form of a license to an exclusive industry partner or startup, or multiple licensees to various entities. When negotiating its license agreements, CTV strives to ensure Columbia inventions have the best chance of getting to market to save and improve lives, and bring exciting new products to market, all while securing a fair and reasonable return for the inventors and generating ongoing research support for the University.

How will the title to any IP emerging from this grant be managed?

Columbia University holds title to intellectual property resulting from the use of Columbia resources, typically from the grant-funded research taking place in Columbia’s laboratories. The IP is managed through its technology transfer office, Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV). The office is committed to the transfer of technology for the benefit of society on a local, national, and global basis. 

How does Columbia comply with NIH guidelines for dissemination of the results of NIH-funded research?

Columbia University fully endorses the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) goals of sharing unique research resources arising from NIH-funded research within the scientific community, and the University’s technology transfer office, Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV), works closely with investigators to realize these objectives. 

The University has an established policy and infrastructure for distributing research materials and transfers of material from Columbia’s laboratories, and such procedures are conducted in a manner consistent with NIH guidelines with respect to the availability of research tools and in accordance with federal laws and regulations, as well as Columbia’s institutional policies. 

Columbia University firmly supports that technology arising from NIH-funded research should remain available and accessible to the research community. To that end, Columbia’s institutional policies prohibit agreements with third parties that restrict the freedom of publication of research results by investigators. When licensing technology covered by pending patent applications or issued patents, such agreements include a reservation of rights provision, which ensures that such technology can be used both by Columbia and by third parties for educational and academic research purposes.  

How will multi-institutional intellectual property emerging from the collaboration be handled?

CTV has ample experience in facilitating and coordinating technology transfer efforts among multiple Columbia inventors as well as across collaborating institutions. With the initial report of an invention created by multiple Columbia University inventors, CTV discusses each inventor’s contribution, and may formalize a sharing arrangement for license proceeds among the inventors upon successful commercialization of the invention. For all inventions created through collaboration across institutions, a formal agreement specifies who will take the lead on patenting and commercialization and the corresponding sharing of expenses and proceeds from licensing activities. 

Columbia will work with the collaboration members’ researchers and the other consortium members’ intellectual property offices in the sharing, distribution, and commercialization of materials, information, and intellectual property developed by the Collaboration Members. Columbia has a strong history of intellectual property (IP) collaborations with most of the top research universities nationally and globally, with dozens of co-managed IP portfolios each year. 

*Note: If your RFP asks for a multi-institutional IP framework or agreement, please contact [email protected] for appropriate language, and please include the exact RFP language in your email.

How does Columbia support entrepreneurship / startups?

Columbia University has a rich history and culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, which can be seen throughout campus, and extends to its partnerships throughout New York City and beyond.

Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) is one of several innovation hubs across campus where entrepreneurs can find programs, classes, funding, networking events, and mentorship to support their ventures. Dedicated resources for entrepreneurs can be found at each individual school, and the university-wide Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Design also supports innovators through partnerships, pedagogy, and programs. These hubs meet regularly to strengthen their specialized offerings and also to collaborate and become greater than the sum of their parts. The collective mission of this network of innovation hubs at Columba is to bring together expertise in every industry and background to help entrepreneurs launch their ventures. 

The support of the University has produced a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem: 

  • $2.4 million Grants awarded annually to Columbia student founders by the University
  • >100 classes dedicated to support Columbia entrepreneurs
  • >5,000 Columbia students engaged in entrepreneurship programs or pedagogy
  • >1,500 Columbia alumni founded >3,000 startups in the last decade
  • >350 Columbia alumni work in venture capital
  • $4.5 Billion in funding was raised by Columbia startups in between June 2017 and May 2018

How does CTV support entrepreneurship / startups?

Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) has a particular focus on startup companies. Over the years, CTV has been involved with launching over 200 companies based on Columbia's intellectual property, many of which have received professional venture capital funding, are getting acquired, or having an IPO. 

Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) uses a standardized licensing approach for all Columbia University startups, with very low upfront fees, fixed equity percentages, low or no early-year milestones, and deferred past patent expenses.  CTV’s goal is to streamline the licensing process and to be transparent in treating all faculty startups equally, in order to reduce the tension associated with the startup creation process.  This approach has been very well received by both entrepreneurs and the venture community, and has contributed to an increase from the average of 5 IP-backed startups per year (back in 2008) to more than 20 startups per year.

Columbia Technology Ventures also maintains a list of outside attorneys that specialize in startups.  These firms (Goodwin Proctor; DLA Piper; Sidley Austin; Wilson Sonsini) have all agreed to charge Columbia startups roughly $5K for the complete company formation papers and filing, as well as another roughly $5–7K for negotiating the license with Columbia.  Most of the firms have also agreed to some kind of deferred payment.  These firms have all been recommended by at least one Columbia startup in the past, and all of them have been cleared as non-conflicted with Columbia, meaning they don’t do any business with Columbia and are hence able to fully represent the startup.  


CTV’s Executive in Residence (XIR) Program aims to connect Columbia inventors and technologies with seasoned industry executives, venture capitalists, and serial entrepreneurs. By doing so, CTV hopes to leverage the deep domain expertise of these individuals to help accelerate the path of Columbia’s promising technologies towards market success. XIRs are encouraged to develop close ties with Columbia inventors, entrepreneurs, and technology transfer team in order to help Columbia further develop these technologies.  To learn more about the Executives in Residence program, including a list of current and past XIRs, please visit: http://techventures.columbia.edu/about-ctv/ctv-executives-residence.

Columbia Accelerators 

Columbia University has extensive experience creating and supporting successful accelerator programs to provide the developers of promising early‐stage technologies with mentorship and support resources, direct funding, educational boot camps, networking opportunities with industry representatives, and the venture investor community. 

Since 2008, Columbia has founded or co-founded multiple accelerator programs encompassing medical technologies, clean energy technologies, therapeutics, and digital media, providing resources to foster the development of concepts and companies that have subsequently raised more than $70million in additional funding.  In 2017, CTV published an article in the Journal of the National Academy of Inventors summarizing lessons learned from running Columbia accelerators. 

Building on this experience, Columbia launched the Lab-to-Market Accelerator Network (L2M) to connect and support Columbia’s existing industry-specific technology accelerator programs. L2M develops and provides a shared infrastructure, such that individual programs can take advantage of a common set of timelines, processes, mentor networks, marketing platforms, event management approaches, and other best practices, which will allow the individual accelerators to focus on industry-specific needs.

The L2M network currently comprises 5 proof‐of‐concept programs across separate industry sectors: medical technologies, clean technology & energy, digital media, and therapeutics. Many of these programs are explicitly multi-institutional and involve extensive collaboration with our peer universities and their tech transfer offices.

Biomedical Engineering Technology Accelerator

The Biomedical Engineering Technology Accelerator aims to catalyze the advancement of biomedical technologies by providing funding, education, resources and mentorship to interdisciplinary teams of clinicians, engineers, scientists and students working to develop solutions to clinical unmet needs, with the ultimate goal of bringing innovative research out of the lab to benefit society. Project support is expected to serve as a bridge to commercial investment, with awards granted to perform specific tasks needed to validate a commercial hypothesis (vs. a scientific hypothesis). Award recipients are encouraged to submit their funded research outcomes for publication in academic journals, as usual.

New York State Biodefense Commercialization Fund

The $40 million Biodefense Commercialization Fund, which was included in the FY2022 budget, was created to encourage and accelerate the development and commercialization of solutions for serious infectious disease threats, including COVID-19 and its variants, while fostering the creation of new life science businesses and supporting industry growth. The Fund offers grants to startups and academic centers that are developing promising diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and such other innovations as epidemiological surveillance tools, environmental controls, and clinical care advances that address or mitigate infectious disease threats.

Columbia-NYU-Takeda Alliance

Columbia University, New York University, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals have formed a collaborative research alliance to initiate and advance gastroenterology (GI) research programs with high potential to impact the development of new therapeutics for patients with GI disorders. Takeda is a global, value-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan, committed to bringing Better Health and a Brighter Future to patients by translating science into highly-innovative medicines. Takeda has its GI research laboratories in San Diego, California, and Cambridge Massachusetts. Our strategic collaboration is aimed at leveraging both the research & development capabilities and funding opportunities of Takeda to bridge the translational and commercial gaps of the Universities’ early-stage technologies. Takeda is seeking projects that are aligned to the GI Drug Discovery Unit’s discovery and translation strategies, and also forward-looking high-risk innovative concepts. 

The objective of this collaboration is to advance sponsored research at the institutional level based on Request for Proposals mechanism. The award decisions will be made by a Joint Research Committee composed of Columbia, NYU, and Takeda representatives.

Translational Therapeutics Accelerator

The Irving Institute Accelerate Program is a therapeutic development accelerator platform that plays a central role in translating the outstanding basic science discoveries at Columbia University into commercial therapeutics. Through our Translational Therapeutics (TRx) accelerator award, we focus on providing funding, education, partnership and mentorship to Columbia Investigators, with a goal of advancing novel therapies from the lab towards the clinic. Advice and project guidance will be provided by a steering committee of academic and industry experts in the field of drug development.

Accelerating Cancer Therapeutics

Accelerating Cancer Therapeutics (ACT) is a therapeutic development accelerator program focused on providing funding, education, partnership, and mentorship to Columbia Investigators, with a goal of advancing novel cancer therapies from the lab towards the clinic. Advice and project guidance will be provided by a steering committee of academic and industry experts in the field of drug development. Researchers are also encouraged to submit their funded research outcomes for publication in academic journals, as usual.

Columbia-SDP Oncology Research Alliance

Columbia University is pleased to announce the Columbia - SDP Oncology Research Alliance. This collaboration stimulates research and development in the field of oncology through collaborative, Columbia investigator initiated projects.

Hudson Heights Innovation

Hudson Heights Innovations is a collaboration between Columbia University and Deerfield Management to advance the translation of biomedical discoveries into transformative treatments for improved quality of life and cures for disease. Through this newly launched initiative, up to $130 million of initial funding will be made available to back the initiative over 10 years by Deerfield and its partners. In addition, Deerfield will provide development expertise in support of innovative drug research across a span of high-need therapeutic areas, as well as those targeting patients who suffer from hard-to-treat and rare diseases.

Columbia | Corning Advanced Materials Prize

The Columbia | Corning Advanced Materials Prize supports interdisciplinary Columbia-based teams developing innovative advanced materials technologies with the potential to transform industries.

Columbia | IBM Launch Accelerator 

The Columbia | IBM Launch Accelerator is a non-dilutive program for building and scaling successful companies in the areas of data transparency, big data, AI/ML, blockchain, cybersecurity, or related fields in deep tech. The goal of the program is to help the best emerging ventures succeed through education, mentorship, and business model design.

As a pillar of the Columbia IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, IBM and Columbia University have partnered to offer companies a customized program with education from industry and academic research experts, hands-on value-added workshops, active mentoring and curated customer meetings. This program is open to teams consisting of at least one team member who is a faculty, student, fellow, or recent alumni of an NYC-based accredited academic institution. University research teams are encouraged to submit their funded research outcomes for publication in academic journals, as usual.

'Math Meets Bio' Columbia-AlleyCorp Collaboration

The 'Math Meets Bio’ Columbia-AlleyCorp Collaboration aims to accelerate the transition of innovative technologies from the lab to market and stimulate start-up activity to support the New York Life Science-Tech ecosystem at the intersection of mathematics and biology. 

RTW Charitable Foundation Accelerator

The RTW Charitable Foundation Accelerator, administered by Columbia Technology Ventures, is a strategic research alliance between the RTW Charitable Foundation and select New York-based academic institutions, to accelerate translational research in the field of rare diseases with particular interest in ultra-rare and underfunded rare diseases.

Please provide a letter of support from your tech transfer office indicating their willingness to work with you on this grant / support licensing relating to this grant

CTV can provide letters of support for grants or for SBIR applications. Please contact your CTV technology licensing officer or [email protected] for assistance. Please allow for at least one week prior to the grant deadline to make the request.

Who will be the industry liaison for this grant, if awarded?  

Some sponsors will request that you identify the grants administrative leadership in the area of technology transfer. If you are submitting a proposal that requires this heightened level of involvement, please contact your CTV technology licensing officer before proceeding. However, it is likely that CTV will be able to identify a staff member who can be written into proposals. Prior to reaching out to CTV, we advise that you consider the following questions:

  • If your proposal receives funding, what specific involvement would you need from the CTV office?  
  • What will CTV need to do over what period of time to contribute to the proposal writing process?
  • Have you begun conceptualizing an IP agreement with participating companies, and, if so, what is it? If not, would you like CTV’s help?

CTV’s Executive-in-Residence

CTV’s Executive-in-Residence program brings seasoned industry executives, serial entrepreneurs, and investors to campus to support faculty and student entrepreneurial activities. For more information visit: http://techventures.columbia.edu/about-ctv/ctv-executives-residence

Outside attorneys that specialize in startups

Columbia Technology Ventures maintains a list of outside attorneys that specialize in startups. These firms have all been recommended by at least one Columbia startup in the past, and all of them have been cleared as non-conflicted with Columbia.  To see full list of attorneys visit: http://techventures.columbia.edu/inventors/start-company-0   

Columbia Lab-to-Market Accelerator Network (L2M)

The Columbia Lab-to-Market Accelerator Network currently encompasses five proof‐of‐concept programs across separate industries: medical technologies, clean technology & energy, digital media, and therapeutics. To learn more visit: https://labtomarket.columbia.edu/ 

Columbia Accelerators:

The Columbia Startup Lab 

The Columbia Startup Lab is a 5,100 sq.ft. co-working facility located at WeWork Soho West, which provides subsidized space for over 70 Columbia alumni entrepreneurs to house and nurture their fledgling ventures. With more than 40 startups from all over the entire University, the Lab is the result of a unique partnership between the deans of Columbia College and the Schools of Business, Engineering and Applied Science, Law, Public Health, and International and Public Affairs. To learn more please visit: http://entrepreneurship.columbia.edu/startup-lab/

Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio

At the Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio, students, alumni, and faculty learn customer-centric methodologies for developing innovative and practical solutions to ill-defined problems. These methodologies, called “human-centered design” give entrepreneurs, students, and faculty an agile approach to gaining critical customer insights and integrating them into their products, services, and businesses. To learn more please contact: [email protected].

StartupColumbia Festival

Hundreds of members of the entrepreneurship community gather each year for a two-day celebration of innovation and grit. The event is filled with panels on hot topics in entrepreneurship, networking, lunch with Columbia food founders, the award announcements for the Columbia Venture Competition and more. To learn more please visit: https://www.startupcolumbia.org/

Columbia Organization for Rising Entrepreneurs (CORE)

One of the largest student clubs on campus, this undergraduate organization provides events, community, and engagement for the innovators on campus. To learn more please visit: https://entrepreneurship.columbia.edu/aboutprofile/columbia-organization-of-rising-entrepreneurs-core/