US Connect

US Connect Announces Stage 2 Selections

The US Connect program congratulates all the participants on their accomplishments during Stage 1 of the program. The following companies have been selected to enter Stage 2 of the program:

Bioalvo
FeedZai
Inovapotek
Tecla Colorida/schoooools.com
WS-Energia

For the companies entering Stage 2, we look forward to announcing in the near future the results of U.S. business development efforts.

About the Program

US Connect is a pilot program of the IC² Institute. Its purpose is to help startup ventures make the transition to global markets, primarily by closing business deals in the United States. US Connect focuses on university spinoffs that have demonstrated success in domestic markets, but have yet to expand into global markets.

The US Connect pilot program is operated and managed by The University of Texas at Austin IC² Institute. The IC² Institute staff plans the program, promotes the program, accepts applications, selects the finalist ventures and moves them through the US Connect process.

Eligibility

The IC² Institute selects countries in which to offer US Connect. To be eligible, a venture must be incorporated and based in their home country. A venture must also have an existing and significant connection to a public university. For example, a venture may (1) have technology licensed from a university; or (2) be part of a university-based incubator. Other connections will be considered if they existed prior to acceptance of applications and demonstrate the university as providing essential contribution to the venture. Finally, a venture’s CEO or a senior staff member must be available for two weeks of travel in the U.S., and the venture must have the financial capacity to fund all flight and travel expenses. See Selection Criteria for preferences regarding staff selected for travel to the U.S.

US Connect Services

The US Connect services will be delivered in two stages.

Stage 1

In Stage 1, up to 12 ventures will be selected. IC² Institute staff will work with venture management to understand their offering and identify needs, completing a needs assessment. Then, the IC² Institute staff will perform initial business development services to identify potential customers and collaborators in the U.S. market. All leads will be shared with the venture’s management.

Stage 2

For Stage 2, up to 4 of the Stage 1 ventures will be selected for in-depth business development services. A brief plan will be jointly developed to pursue business development opportunities. The plan will be highly customized to the opportunities identified. Activities may include phone calls to experts, prospective clients or partners, in-person visits to sites (with related travel), sharpening of existing pitches, assistance with contracts and term sheets, and other activities that move toward deal closing. A travel plan for executive staff will be developed and executed. Every effort will be made to conclude a business arrangement and signed contract. Stage 2 services includes hosting of member/s of the venture’s senior staff in the U.S. Capacity for the staff to spend up to two weeks in the U.S. is a requirement for participation in the US Connect program.

Note: In addition to U.S. connections, US Connect will also surface possible connections to other markets, especially those served by other IC² Institute programs. These connections will be counted as positive outcomes and metrics for the program, along with connections inside the U.S.

Technology Transfer Office and Incubator Involvement: While the primary goal of US Connect is business development and the closing of business deals for two ventures, the program also seeks to engage the efforts of technology transfer offices and incubator staff in the identification and development of business leads. During Stage 1, IC² Institute staff will contact appropriate technology transfer and incubator staff, and working with venture management, invite the technology transfer staff to help develop business leads. These efforts will not replace IC² Institute efforts, but will supplement those efforts. Leads identified by technology transfer and incubator staff will be considered when selecting ventures for Stage 2. Continued technology transfer and incubator involvement will be welcome during Stage 2.

Selection Criteria

Stage 1

Stage 1 selection will be based on submitted applications. As deemed necessary, IC² Institute staff will contact applicants for phone interviews. The following criteria will be used for selecting ventures for Stage 1. IC² Institute staff will choose applications for acceptance into the program. Scoring will be as follows:

 

Criteria Description Weight
Revenue from products and services. 35%
Prospective competitive advantage in the U.S. from those same products and services. 25%
Availability of CEO/executive staff* for a two-week visit in the U.S during phase 2; including in-hand financial resources to support the trip, and resources to follow-through on trip
results.
20%
The ability of the IC² Institute to make a positive, material impact on the venture. 20%

*The US Connect application requires that the venture CEO or a senior manager commit to two weeks of travel in the U.S. as a condition for eligibility. For small ventures, selection will strongly favor ventures who indicate the CEO will travel to the U.S. For larger ventures, while the CEO is still preferred, consideration will be given to senior staff members who have full authority to act from the CEO, and who because of expertise, U.S. experience or for other reasons are better candidates to travel in support of the effort.

Stage 2

Up to 4 ventures will be identified for intensive business development activities in the United States. Selection will be made by the IC² Institute after a careful and comprehensive process. The following criteria will be used for selecting Stage 2 ventures:

 

Criteria Description Weight
Number of potential customers, partners, or scientific collaborators identified in Stage 1 30%
Continued availability of executive staff for extended travel to the U.S., including financial resources for travel. 30%
Potential size of the prospective deals. 25%
Suitability of IC² Institute resources to make positive impacts on business development. 15%

Business Arrangements Sought

The US Connect program seeks to close business arrangements of three types, in the following order of preference:

  • Type 1: Arrangements that result in a cash transfer to a venture. This can include sales, a corporate investment, or a research investment.
  • Type 2: Partnership agreements that may lead to a cash transfer; for example, a sales partnership or distribution partnership.
  • Type 3: Arrangements that provide in-kind services which conserve cash for ventures; for example, web site development, marketing materials development, or sales activity leveraging existing sales calls by the partner.

It is the commitment of the US Connect program to make a strong effort to complete business arrangements for Stage 2 ventures. While we commit to make a strong effort, and will share contacts and market insights with all ventures, we do not guarantee results regarding closing business arrangements.

Financial Obligations

The services provided in US Connect are provided at no cost to the selected ventures. The program does not cover time invested by the ventures or costs associated with travel and accommodation. Participants will be expected to invest time as required and fund airline tickets, hotels, meals, and other travel expenses associated with any trips to the U.S. or other countries required during their participation in the US Connect program. If selected ventures fail to meet financial obligations, they may be replaced by other applying ventures.

Reporting Obligations

Metrics and reporting, and dissemination of lessons learned and best practices, are key activities in the program. Participating ventures will be required to describe their experience in the program, complete occasional surveys and accept interview requests from IC² Institute staff. In addition, the essential details of completed business transactions, including the overall cash value of an arrangement and key contract terms, may be published to satisfy reporting requirements, publicize accomplishments of the program, or provide educational benefit to other program participants. IC² Institute staff will work with venture staff to compose information that meets program needs without unnecessary disclosure of details of the transaction. The IC² Institute’s intent is to produce information that is also beneficial to the venture for marketing, outreach and/or public relations.

Confidential Information and Rights to Publish

IC² Institute methodologies are based on analysis of non-confidential information regarding the potential markets for ventures. No confidential information will be requested or accepted during the effort. Therefore, Non-Disclosure Agreements and Confidentiality Agreements will not be signed during the US Connect effort.

As a university program, an important result of IC² Institute projects is dissemination of market information and lessons learned. The IC² Institute and The University of Texas at Austin retain the right to publish market information, case studies and best practices uncovered during US Connect efforts.

Publication of Selections

Selection of applicants will be published on the program web site, http://www.ic2.utexas.edu/intl/us-connect.html. Applications will be scored, and each applicant will receive a brief summary of their score, and a brief narrative providing application feedback, for the purpose of learning and improvement for future efforts.

Dates

The following are the key dates for application, selection and participation in the 2011 program.

 

Date (2011) Activity
May 16 to June 3 Application period
June 3 to June 10 Selection period
June 10 Stage 1 participants announced
June 10 to August 19 Business development activities for Stage 1 ventures
August 26 Stage 2 participants announced
September 1 to December 30 Up to two week venture executive visits to Austin
Intense business development and negotiation activities
Deal closing

The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, June 3, 2011.

Applying for US Connect

A venture applies for US Connect by completing the form, available upon request from the US Connect contact address below.

For more information

For more information about US Connect, contact:

Cliff Zintgraff
IC² Institute, The University of Texas at Austin
czintgraff@ic2.utexas.edu