UniTartu Ventures: facilitating the transfer of academic knowledge into entrepreneurship

At the end of 2020, the University of Tartu founded the company UniTartu Ventures OÜ, adding an opportunity to direct the intellectual property created by university’s researchers to research- and technology-intensive companies. 

The intellectual property owned by the university may include, for instance, data, research findings or patents. In addition to emerging companies stemming from the university, UniTartu Ventures can also cooperate with other Estonian or international technology companies that are in the early stage and need the intellectual property created at the university to develop. 

We have created a model where the university hands the intellectual property over to UniTartu Ventures, who in turn gives it to a start-up and gets a shareholding in the company in return. UniTartu Ventures as an active investor will continue to provide development advice to the company also after the transaction.

Mart Maasik, Investment Director of UniTartu Ventures, Head of Entrepreneurship of the University of Tartu

Through UniTartu Ventures, the university helps start-ups to achieve their long-term objectives while at the same time designing its own investment portfolio. The share can be sold at a suitable moment and the received income may be used to support the technology development of, for example, university’s spin-offs and to prepare for new intellectual property investments.  

Starting a research-based company is often seen as the final destination of research work, but in business terms, it is just the start of a new journey. UniTartu Ventures aims to help ensure that, after the company starts up and raises the initial investment, its collaboration with the university, i.e., the research and development activities, will continue and business development gets a boost. This is a win-win situation for all the parties involved, and a knowledge-intensive business. 

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