COI Considerations for Startups and Licensing

Are you interested in starting a company based on research or other work you have done as part of your official Cornell duties? The Financial Conflict of Interest Committee and the Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell have developed guidance for faculty, staff, post-docs, and students in the Ithaca-based campuses on appropriate involvement in start-ups, IP carve-outs, and licensing.

Potential Conflicts of Interest Related to Licensing

For students and faculty who have developed technologies through their Cornell work, and are interested in licensing those technologies to industry partners, there may be conflict of interest considerations to address. Specifically, if you have a financial relationship with an entity that is planning to license your technology--such as an equity interest, or paid consultancy--and your ongoing Cornell research or other duties overlap with the product being licensed, there may be a real or perceived financial conflict of interest.

Please contact the COI office early in the process to confirm whether or not a conflict may exist; the COI team will work with you on developing a conflict management plan, if necessary.

Intellectual Property "Carve-out" Procedure

For faculty members who anticipate developing intellectual property (IP) through work with an outside entity--related to their Cornell research or other duties--there is a process in place for requesting a "carve-out" for that work. Please contact the COI office to inquire about next steps.

Guidance on Appropriate Involvement in Start-ups by Members of the University Community

While Cornell University encourages and supports the efforts of its researchers to develop and disseminate Cornell intellectual property (IP) by entering into relationships with existing business entities and forming start-up companies, the University must also identify and appropriately manage potential conflicts of interest and commitment arising from these relationships to ensure the integrity of the research process, the unbiased and effective development of University IP, and the protection of its students’ ability to pursue their studies and research activities with appropriate independence and objectivity. This guidance document collects Cornell guidelines for determining appropriate types and levels of involvement in start-ups by members of the University community, and acceptable relationships among those persons from the perspective of research integrity.


If you have any questions, or want to discuss a particular scenario, please contact the COI office.