This component of MNTorship is dedicated to first identifying the specific undertakings to be conducted by each Participant within each Project and then releasing the Participant to complete the prescribed work scope (Project Plan) under the guidance and coaching provided by the MNTorship Program Coordinator. Initially, the MNTorship Program Coordinator will provide the Participant with introductions to individuals or organizations that can play a role in completing the various tasks required to create a new technology –based commercial enterprise. Soon after though, the Participant will be left to conduct independent introductions and start the process of building their own relationships. These relationships over time will position the Participant for future success in building the new company’s operating structure and assisting in its business development efforts.
The base principles that define the Project Progress activities is that each Participant will have a different set of skills (strengths and weaknesses) and an underlying understanding of what needs to get done, why and how. These understandings then characterize each Project’s unique state of initial readiness. To adapt each Project’s unique state of readiness to a grant funding mechanism that respects financial accounting and contract policies at the University of Alberta, Project Progress activities are separated into two sequential phases.
Phase I activities are directed exclusively towards company creation, building administrative structures and completing core transactions for positioning the start-up company on a solid foundation for conducting work that will bring and support future and lasting value to the business. Upon initiating a Project the Participant and the MNTorship Program Coordinator move through a checklist to address each of Designated Outcomes and then identify each the required Defined Deliverables that require attention and completion. Upon specifying each relevant Defined Deliverable a corresponding Expense Significance is associated to it which ultimately leads to defining Eligible Expenses and any constraints or limitations. From this exercise, a Phase I – Project Plan is developed along with a corresponding budget. As a corporate entity does not exist at the start of Phase I, the funding is directed to the Project as a reimbursement against Eligible Expenses incurred personally by the Participant while under the terms and conditions expressed within the University of Alberta standard “Contract for Services” agreement. Depending upon the number of Defined Deliverables requiring completion and their respective complexities the term corresponding to Phase I is defined and can extend up to six (6) months.
Company Creation and Administration Set-Up
- Company Creation – Structure, Registration, Identity
- Accounting System Development – Including: GST, Income Tax and SRED management
- Intellectual Property Assessment
- Technology License Agreement
- Business Partner/Employee/Advisor Recruitment
- Unanimous Shareholder Agreement
- Corporate Policy Statements
Phase II of Project Progress is largely directed at re-establishing the product development compass and moving forward in building the company in the most optimal direction. With the corporate entity now formally established the remaining of the Project funding is committed under the terms and conditions of a MNTorship Project - Funding Contract. Under the Funding Contract a clear work scope and expectations are defined which reflect activities and required outcomes that are most important to the current and future health of the company.
Typically the work scope during Phase II is dedicated to verifying whether the original product concept is valid and establishing whether a real and accessible market truly exists. This is a necessity as it is often found that the original work conducted to define the initial product concept and its potential is flawed due to the use of a poor set of initial assumptions such as: expected product performance; customer preferences/behavior and time-to-market; interfering personal/technical biases throughout the initial analysis; and a lack of investigative depth to truly appreciate the challenges that characterize the competitive landscape. Fortunately, if the original invention is unique and offers some level of flexibility, the additional product/market verification effort that will include an increased level of potential customer involvement will identify much improved product concept avenues to pursue. Once full confidence in the initial product concept is achieved, the remaining effort during Phase II is directed at building an appropriate business plan, constructing an initial prototype, restructuring the intellectual property strategy and maintaining the constant pursuit of revenue through grants or early investors.
Opportunity Validation, Prototyping and Business Development
- Product Performance and Market Verification Analysis
- Intellectual Property Strategy Implementation – Patents, Trademarks, Trade Secrets
- Patent and/or Office Action Drafting
- Business Plan Preparation
- Go Forward Financial Planning and Execution