Founders Choice™ is the name Imperial gives to its spinout formation process and the associated entrepreneurial education and support offered to founders.
PLEASE NOTE: Founders Choice was updated on 1 Aug 2023. Please read this page carefully for information on the changes. This page will be updated over the coming months with additional details.
Founders Choice Update - 1 August 2023
Read the College News announcement about the changes.
Following a detailed consultation with academic staff, spinout founders, investors and other key stakeholders in spinout success, Imperial made improvements to Founders Choice which are being rolled out from 1 August 2023
The changes aim to improve the experience of spinout founders, incentivise academics to take part in spinout activity, and improve terms for spinout founders to maximise their companies’ chances of success.
The Founders Choice offer
- Dedicated support and strong incentives
- Favourable terms that enable spinouts to start well and thrive
- A low-friction formation process optimised for deal speed
Dedicated support and strong incentives
Founders will be guided through the spinout process by a dedicated Spinout Project Manager (SPM). The SPM roles will be taken on by existing members of the Imperial Enterprise team, in addition to their ongoing responsibilities.
The SPM will drive the formation process, identify support needs, and work closely with the founders throughout their spinout journey. A wide range of founder support will be offered, from monthly ‘how-to’ masterclasses to access to Experts in Residence, to fundraising strategy coaching.
Founders will share as much as 95% equity in spinout companies and continue to be able to benefit from the Rewards to Inventors scheme for IP licensed to the spinouts.
The Founders Choice update introduces several fixed terms that aim to accelerate deal speed while enabling spinouts to thrive. These include limited Imperial equity holding and low standard royalty rates on technology licences.
A range of improvements have been made to existing terms, including an update to payments and a simplified annual development plan.
Dedicated support and fixed terms that respond to the commercial realities faced by spinout companies combine to reduce friction in the formation process. The SPM will drive the technology licensing and company formation process, working directly with the founders. Legal template documents will be made available to founders.
A spinout set up for success
Spinouts formed through Founders Choice are set up to start well and thrive.
- Competitive equity terms
- Imperial College London as a shareholder
- Generous technology licensing terms
- Cash-preserving repayment terms to support the spinout in its early operations
- Completed IP package
Imperial will receive limited founding equity in spinouts in exchange for its innovation ecosystem, exemplary research facilities and project funding. The table below shows the options for Imperial's founding equity holding:
|Non-dilutable equity option||5% with non-dilute to £20 million cumulative investment||5% with non-dilute to £5 million cumulative investment|
|Dilutable equity option||20%||10%|
Founders can choose between the non-dilute and dilutable equity options.
Royalties on the sale of products or services based on Imperial IP licensed to the spinout will only become due on aggregate net sales exceeding £50 million. Royalty rates are fixed:
|Low margin businesses||Medium margin businesses||High margin businesses|
Sub-licensing royalties will be fixed at 10% of all net proceeds.
Spinout Project Manager
A member of Imperial Enterprise will be assigned as Spinout Project Manager to each new spinout opportunity. They will work closely with the founders to identify and fulfill support needs, and take responsibility for the technology licence and spinout formation process.
Tailored support for all founders
The Founders Choice update removes the need for founders to choose between the Jointly Driven and Founder Driven routes. Instead, all founders will receive tailored, high quality support drawn from across Imperial.
5-year repayment period
Payments due from the spinout to Imperial in respect of the technology licence fee and historical patent cost reimbursement will be due in equal instalments over a five-year period.
Updated licence terms
Reservation of rights: Imperial will support founders and lab groups that wish to sign additional agreements with the spinout in order to carry out industry sponsored research on licensed IP. The technology licensing agreement will reserve rights for teaching and research only.
Fewer restrictions on sub-licensing: certain restrictions affecting the ability of spinouts to sublicence to some industries have been removed. Restrictions will be aligned to those covered in Imperial’s Research Codes of Practice.
Technology pipeline agreements: pipeline agreements for non-severable improvements to licensed technology will be included in technology licences as standard.
Switch to annual development plan: when IP is licensed to a spinout, Imperial will require the company to submit an annual development plan and agree to undertake commercially reasonable endeavours to develop, exploit and market the licensed technology.
Academic and research staff with questions about Founders Choice are encouraged to contact their faculty IPC team.
Faculty of Engineering
Dr Marika Reay – firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Medicine
Dr Vjera Magdalenic-Moussavi –email@example.com
Faculty of Natural Sciences
Dr Viraj Perera – firstname.lastname@example.org
Imperial College Business School
Julian Sikondari –email@example.com
For any further questions, requests for support materials, or feedback, please contact:
Gavin Reed, Enterprise Marketing and Communications Manager - firstname.lastname@example.org