Office of Research START - Office of Research


Facilitating the Creation of Campus Technology-Derived Startup Companies

Venture Catalyst START™

The Venture Catalyst START™ Suite of programs and services provides the ABCs to equip UC Davis entrepreneurs with the tools they need to form and grow robust startups. The program gives founders the START they need to create a well-structured company and ensure the company is prepared for success. Some of the offerings within the START™ Suite include:

  • Inventor Advantage™ Program: Deferment of patent expenses to UC Davis startups
  • LegalNet™: Incorporation services
  • MentorNet™: Access to a network of experienced business / technology professionals and mentors
  • MICA™: Market Intelligence and Competitive Analysis reports
  • SBIR/STTR grant writing and submission workshops
  • Workshops/Pitch Coaching: Pitch decks, executive summaries, coaching, connections etc.
  • Entrepreneurship Academy: Cosponsored with and managed and run by the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • VentureNet™: Access to a network of banking, HR, business vendors, and contract service providers
  • DRIVE™ Program: Distributed Research Incubation and Venture Engine, provides access to incubator facilities for UC Davis affiliated startups

Inventor Advantage™ Program

In conjunction with Venture Catalyst and InnovationAccess at UC Davis, the Inventor AdvantageTM Program provides up-front assistance to Venture Catalyst START™ participants, by deferring patent costs incurred until the company is ready to license the intellectual property.  This gives them an advantage in attracting investors, securing SBIR and other grant funding, and improving their near-term financial footing.  The deferral of patent costs up to a total amount of $15,000 will be based on a determination by the Office of Research through Venture Catalyst in consultation with UC Davis InnovationAccess as to whether such deferral would enhance the Venture Catalyst START™ participant’s ability to establish the infrastructure necessary to develop and move the intellectual property to the marketplace in a timely manner for the public good.  Venture Catalyst’s primary goal is to support University-originated technology transfer and IP-driven startups.  To achieve this, close collaboration across the campus and effective engagement with the community is a necessity.


Venture Catalyst has worked closely with law firms to provide START™ participants with a package of services at no charge, including incorporation/entity formation, standard legal documents (NDAs, employment agreements, etc.), and assistance with a pre-funding cap-table.  Venture Catalyst START™ companies are responsible for associated filing fees.  Though companies are not obligated to continue to use their services after incorporation, START™ participants may want to continue the relationship with the trusted legal firm.

  • Selection of the appropriate form of business structure
  • Help with setting up the initial pre-funding capital table (including brief discussion of vesting schedules, issuance of shares, etc.)
  • Registration with appropriate authorities (entrepreneur responsible for fees)
  • Standard legal documents (CDA, consulting, employment, and SAB agreements, etc.)
  • Preliminary review of IP position, including a letter of intent for a license from the university


Venture Catalyst has developed a rich and diverse network of leading expert mentors through its MentorNet™ program to help START participants think through the startup’s business model, personnel requirements, and capital needs.  These mentors will guide participants through the creation a business plan that includes clarity about the best market to serve, and the most significant risks that will need to be addressed.


Through its Market Intelligence and Competitive Analysis (MICA™) Program, Venture Catalyst offers basic market research reports to START™ participants. These reports help startup founders better frame their business opportunity, articulate their commercial challenges, and provide key elements of pitch decks and proposals used for securing funding. The basic MICA service, which is offered free-of-charge to all START participants, includes pertinent information such as market size, market share, regional segmentation, and competitive landscape.

SBIR/STTR application workshops

These multi-session workshops take participants through all the steps necessary to successfully file a well-written SBIR/STTR grant application. The workshop focuses on crafting a well-structured research plan, obtaining persuasive letters of support, developing a realistic budget, anticipating reviewers’ comments, and much more.

Workshops/Pitch Coaching

Venture Catalyst provides business workshops for START™ participants by leading experts.  These workshops are designed to provide topic specific informational sessions on subjects including pitch deck creation, writing of executive summary, basics of term-sheets, and more.  Pitch coaching will be provided by pitch-coaching professionals to help START™ participants refine their presentations and effectively deliver their messages to potential investors or partners.

Entrepreneurship Academy

The three-day UC Entrepreneurship Academy is the premier academic program for commercializing science and engineering innovations run by the UC Davis Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The academy is taught by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, university faculty and staff, industry executives, and angel investors who serve as mentors and guest speakers. Venture Catalyst START™ participants gain the knowledge and networks needed to develop the commercial potential of your research of idea. The academy includes:

  • An intensive opportunity to explore the market opportunities surrounding your ideas and your research.
  • Daily seminars and interactive sessions taught by leading investors, industry executives and entrepreneurs.
  • The tools to communicate the broader potential of your research.
  • Evening mentoring sessions with industry leaders.


Through VentureNet™, Venture Catalyst connects University startups with businesses and service providers who can provide startup-oriented services necessary for effective early stage operations. As an example, Venture Catalyst has identified local banks who can provide START™ participants with no-minimum-deposit, no-fee bank accounts (business bank accounts are necessary for SBIR applications). Venture Catalyst START™ participants can also access Professional Employer Organization (PEO) services at preferred discount rates.


Through the DRIVE™ (Distributed Research Incubation & Venture Engine) Program, UC Davis is developing a distributed network of thematically oriented business incubators and innovation centers. Facilitated through the Office of Research by Venture Catalyst, management and leasing of the innovation centers are handled directly with the centers. The DRIVE Network provides UC Davis startups with access to affordable incubation spaces in close proximity to the UC Davis.

For more information, view the DRIVE Program page.

Venture Catalyst START™

To download the START program brochure, please click here.

To download the START form, please click here.

For more information or questions: