Swift Startup License

Is your startup Rock Chalk & ready to go? Then our Swift Startup License might be a fit.

To help promote innovation and entrepreneurship, the KU Center for Technology Commercialization offers a simplified, ready-to-use license agreement that is a fit for many startup companies developing KU-patented intellectual property. In recognition of our interest in a low-friction negotiation with our startups, we call this approach the Swift Startup License, or Swift for short. The agreement is structured to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of the startup company and KU, allowing for:

  • An attractive position for prospective investors
  • A streamlined and efficient negotiation process
  • Reduced upfront legal costs

Using the Swift model enables KU startups to hit the ground running and invest their efforts and resources in the creation of long-term value from KU intellectual property. Please keep in mind that Swift is only one of the options available to KU innovators and is built to serve the most common business model found when developing university intellectual property — one in which a single primary product is to be developed from the licensed patent rights. Swift does not fit all types of business opportunities nor intellectual property aside from patents. Prior to starting down the path toward Swift, please discuss with KUCTC what other options might be available. 

Swift Startup License basics

  • Exclusive license with right to sublicense
  • No upfront fees
  • No repayment of past patent costs ($20,000 limit; future/ongoing patent costs paid by licensee)
  • No equity to KU
  • No annual minimum fees
  • No minimum annual royalties
  • Single, flat patent royalty rate on sales of any product(s)
  • Sliding sublicense revenue that steps down over time
  • A “success fee” payable if/when the company is acquired or goes public
  • View the non-negotiable Swift Startup License template (pdf)

Swift qualifications + approval process

Learn more about the qualifications for a Swift Startup License and how to navigate the approval process in the dropdowns below.

Swift qualifications + approval process

Special attention has been given to streamline the process, reduce upfront legal costs and expedite the contract execution process by KUCTC and licensee. To qualify for Swift, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The individual requesting Swift must be employed at KU (as faculty or non-faculty staff) and be a founder of a startup licensing the KU intellectual property.
  2. The individual requesting Swift must be an inventor of the KU intellectual property.
  3. The individual requesting Swift must have attended Startup School @ KU or have demonstrated equivalent business experience/training (examples STARTUP Central, I-Corps, Kaufmann FastTrac, etc.).
  4. The KU intellectual property must be the basis for forming the new company, and a clear product to be developed from the KU intellectual property must be identifiable.
  5. The KU intellectual property should be solely owned by KU.
  6. The startup must have a CEO (with relevant business experience; not the PI) and an assembled team of advisors committed to the startup. NOTE: KUCTC does not directly negotiate licenses to KU intellectual property with KU employees.

Present the business case (including a business plan and an investor pitch slide deck) to the Swift committee for approval via email to Cliff Michaels cmichaels2@ku.edu

Approval process

The following steps need to be completed before a Swift Startup License is executed:

  1. A formal request for Swift should be submitted to KUCTC, followed by a one-on-one consultation with a KUCTC team member.
  2. A business model canvas must be developed by the startup and submitted to KUCTC.
  3. A business plan must be developed and submitted to KUCTC.
  4. An investor-ready pitch deck incorporating the startup’s business plan must be presented to the Swift Committee. KUCTC will coordinate this meeting.
    1. The Swift committee will follow your presentation of your pitch with a question-and-answer session.
    2. The Swift committee will meet and vote for approval after the meeting, and KUCTC will provide their feedback to the startup. NOTE: KUCTC cannot guarantee approval by the committee.
  5. Along with seeking committee approval, the individual requesting Swift (and any other individuals employed by KU and affiliated with the company) should complete a conflict of interest (COI) disclosure for review and approval from the respective COI committee. This process is independent of KUCTC and is the responsibility of the individual requesting Swift. Please contact coi@ku.edu, at KU Office of Research.
  6. Please note that except for the incorporation of market-relevant diligence milestones, the Swift License is non-negotiable.