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  • Fundamental Principles: What Not to Overlook in Startup Shareholder Relations

    For startups, establishing transparent and effective shareholder relationships is crucial, starting with the necessity of documenting all agreements to avoid misunderstandings down the line. It's generally beneficial to limit the number of shareholders, as a smaller group often results in fewer conflicts and more streamlined decision-making. Not everyone involved with the company needs to be a shareholder; alternatives like employment contracts or an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) can be effective in incentivizing contributions without complicating the shareholder structure. Central to maintaining alignment among stakeholders is the clear definition and frequent communication of the company's mission and vision. This ensures that as the company evolves, all shareholders remain on the same page, ready to embrace any changes in direction the startup may take. Moreover, it's critical that shareholders reach a consensus on the company's long-term objectives: whether the aim is to build a sustainable business intended to last indefinitely or to develop the company with the goal of selling it. Agreement on an exit strategy, if applicable, is a vital principle that can significantly impact the strategic decisions and operational focus of the company. Operational clarity is further supported by setting specific individual Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), outlining roles and responsibilities, and establishing clear expectations for contributions. These foundational elements should be detailed in a comprehensive Shareholders' Agreement (SHA), which also incorporates crucial clauses such as drag-along (force a minority shareholder to join in the sale of a company) and tag-along (entitle the minority shareholder to participate in the sale) rights and non-competition agreements. Furthermore, this agreement should plan for the possibility of shareholders parting ways, outlining the process and terms under which this can occur to ensure a smooth transition and continuity for the business. This SHA is key to managing expectations and relationships, ensuring the startup's journey is marked by collective effort and shared commitment towards a common goal. #sha #shareholdersagreement #startup

  • Innovation Washing: The Facade of False Progress

    In the corporate world (sometimes, sadly, in the start-up ecosystem as well), a new phenomenon mirroring the well-known greenwashing has emerged: innovation washing. This term describes the practice of companies claiming to embrace and drive innovation when, in reality, their efforts amount to little more than superficial changes. Despite minimal advancements, these organizations position themselves at the forefront of innovation, leveraging this facade for marketing and public relations gains rather than genuine progress. Innovation, by its nature, requires a culture that fosters creativity, encourages risk-taking, and supports the development of new ideas. However, many companies jumping on the innovation bandwagon lack this fundamental ethos. They are not equipped with the necessary environment or mindset to nurture true innovation. Instead, they engage in what can be termed as 'innovation theater,' where the appearance of innovation is staged without substantial outcomes. Identifying innovation washing is often simple: it typically involves grandiose claims of innovation with little evidence of substantial or meaningful change. The language is decorated with buzzwords and vague promises, yet lacks real examples of impactful innovation. The appeal of appearing 'disruptive' sometimes leads established companies to embrace surface-level signs of innovation (like using the word smart for basic features, labeling products as AI-enhanced with features that don't genuinely use AI and accelerator-like activites with no real content) confusing these for authentic innovation. However, true disruption comes from fundamentally challenging and changing the status quo, not merely pretending to do so. The core issue with innovation washing is its erosion of the true value and understanding of innovation. It breeds complacency and a superficial approach to what it means to be innovative. Each time an organization labels trivial changes as groundbreaking, it moves further away from establishing a genuine culture of innovation—one that is capable of producing ideas that are truly novel, valuable, and sustainable for its customers. This dilution not only misleads stakeholders but also hampers the organization's long-term capacity for real innovation and growth. #innovationwashing #technology #innovation

  • Intellectual Property Co-Ownership: A Minefield for Businesses

    The complexity of intellectual property co-ownership can lead to significant legal challenges, particularly when it comes to the rights of individual co-owners to use the IP. This situation often presents a legal conundrum because there is a lack of clarity about whether co-owners are required to grant each other licenses or if there exists an alternative framework for the mutual exploitation of the shared asset. For instance, in the absence of explicit agreements, co-owners might find themselves in disputes over the extent of their usage rights, potentially leading to litigation. This ambiguity hampers the path to commercialization and effective utilization of IP, which is critical for innovation and generating economic value. Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the legal framework governing IP co-ownership can act as a deterrent to its efficient exploitation. Without clear rules, co-owners might be hesitant to invest in or fully develop the IP for fear of future disputes or claims from other co-owners. An illustrative case is when a co-owned patent's potential is underutilized because the parties involved cannot agree on licensing terms, leading to missed opportunities for market advancement and revenue generation. To mitigate these risks, it is essential for co-owners to establish concrete and transparent agreements that detail the terms of IP usage, sharing, and licensing. Such agreements can serve as a foundation for avoiding legal disputes and ensuring that all parties benefit from the IP. For example, a well-structured co-ownership agreement that includes provisions for dispute resolution and clear licensing terms can facilitate smoother collaboration between parties, leading to more effective commercialization of the IP and enhanced innovation outcomes. If you need help with IP co-ownership or exact contract settings, please contact us! #intelectualproperty #coownership #innovation

  • Venture capital & university start-ups online debate

    💡A few findings from our online debate on Venture capital & university start-ups which was the finale of our #Education4enterpreneurship project: 👉 Two different models on how to approach creation of university start-ups were presented. • One focusing on individual entrepreneurs (rather than researchers), fast market access and providing funding (through own VC fund), • second putting researchers (authors of the invention) and support for them into the centre (through a commercialisation triangle of TTO, SPV and incubator). These models reflected different university types: traditional one with very long history and research also in humanities and social sciences on one hand and a decade old technical university (result of a merge of several institutions) with a private status. ❓Can a researcher can be a good #entrepreneur? Question which often appears at debates related to technology and knowledge transfer and where answers vary. The difference between the researcher role and the role of entrepreneurs was discussed intensively. Commitment to technology does not necessarily mean commitment to the company and understanding of the market. But these two roles have to work closely together to understand what the world really needs. It can be a love and hate relationship sometimes. What is crucial is the appreciation of each other and mutual trust. 👉 On a more general level, importance of #TechnologyValidation,#ecosystemApproach and #internationalization was stressed as critical success factors for academic start-ups. Among the bottlenecks, lack of entrepreneurial skills or funding gap at seed and early start-up stage were mentioned. 🙏 Many thanks to our excellent speakers and moderator Imre Hild, Krzysztof Gulda and Katarina Pastrnakfor the vibrant debate, the International Visegrad Fund for the support and Jana Lachmann for organizing the event. 👀 You can watch the whole debate at At this website you can also find our #Toolkit for organization of university courses focusing on product and service development:

  • 🚀 Celebrating an exhilarating week of #designThinking and #researchValorization!

    We welcomed 24 innovation managers and technology transfer specialists from universities and research organizations in Czechia🇨🇿, Hungary🇭🇺, Poland🇵🇱, Slovakia🇸🇰, Georgia🇬🇪, and Armenia🇦🇲 to Prague for ImpactSprint: from research to product training for trainers. This intensive one-week event had a clear mission: ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship among students and young researchers, foster knowledge sharing, embrace new techniques, and spark inspiration. 🙏 A heartfelt THANK YOU to our incredible team of trainers: - Ondra Brém, our HCD expert and the master of ceremony. - Iro Tsagareishvili, for leading the enlightening pitching session. - Vardan Gevorgyan, for sharing his knowledge on commercialization and IP protection. - Emil Podwysocki, for diving deep into digital prototyping. - Vojtěch Kadlec, Jiri Navratil, and Vojtech Nosek, who shared their insights on innovation development, technology assessment, and prototyping. Our gratitude extends to other speakers, organizations, and partners who contributed to the success of the event: - Michal Pohludka from GeneSpector Innovations, for sharing their inspiring journey as a spin-off of Charles University. - Mirek Lizec from MIWA Technologies, a.s., for their fascinating exploration of "packaging as a service" and waste-free shopping. - PrusaLab and Průša Research, for their unwavering support to the innovation community and invaluable insights into prototyping. - Kampus Hybernská, for hosting our public debate on entrepreneurship education. - Faculty of Information Technology CTU in Prague, University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Slovak Organization for Research and Development Activities (SOVVA), National Information Processing Institute, Tbilisi State University, BTU • Business and Technology University, SIPAC Foundation for connecting us with the right people in their respective countries. - International Visegrad Fund, for their vital financial support. Last but certainly not least, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the participants Meri Harutyunyan, Eva Šimeková, Emese Tokarčíková, Monika Štěpánová, Eva Malichova, Jana Kolomazníková, Mariam Kobiashvili, Julia Vesmas, Andrea Miklasová, Blanka Talostanova, 💶 🇪🇺 Katarzyna Walczyk-Matuszyk, Marika Kowalska, Veronika Haissingerová, Jacek Raczko, Jiří Zhoř, József Nagyréti, László Ornódi, Anton Bittner, Craig V. Johnson, who transformed this event into a vibrant hub of exchange and inspiration. 🙌 #Innovation#Entrepreneurship#ResearchValorization#ImpactSprint#Education#KnowledgeSharing#EntrepreneurshipCommunity#thankyou

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