Student who already formed a company

I’m a student who formed a company or organization prior to starting at MIT.

Congratulations on getting your company off the ground! You are a valued member of the MIT entrepreneurship ecosystem, and we hope you will mentor your peers who follow in your footsteps.

Now that you’re a graduate student, please keep in mind that there are some rules that guide how the activities of your company or organization might overlap with your MIT research. If you wish to continue having an active role or maintain a significant financial interest in your enterprise, there are discussions you must have first:  

1.  Explain to your academic or research advisor the nature of your company or organization’s work and determine if your entrepreneurship and research activities are separate and distinct in terms of technical scope (i.e., any potential overlap).  If the entrepreneurship activity is not clearly separate and distinct in scope from your existing or planned research obligation, this is an area of serious concern and changes will have to be made. 

2.  How will you balance time spent on your entrepreneurial activities with your research and academic obligations? Make plans to avoid a conflict of commitment

3. To what extent, if at all, will your entrepreneurial activities impact your academic milestones? Discuss with your academic or research advisor.

4.  Important: please note that if you and your advisor do identify a path forward for your continued involvement in the enterprise:

  • You cannot use MIT research or any MIT-owned technology or intellectual property (IP) in your enterprise’s work without a license from the Technology Licensing Office (TLO). Contact the TLO if your enterprise is interested in licensing any MIT-owned technology.
  • Any IP that you have assigned to MIT pursuant to your IPIA is owned by MIT, not you or your company. 
  • If your enterprise has previously licensed MIT technologies, new conflict of interest issues may arise. Please consult the “Existing Company” lane of the Startup Scenario flowchart and discuss with the Conflict of Interest Office and the TLO as applicable.

5.  Don’t bring anyone from MIT who supervises you into your enterprise to avoid a conflict of interest for that supervisor. Supervisory roles include but are not limited to academic advisor, research advisor, thesis committee member, supervising postdoc, research staff member, or subject instructor.

See related MIT policies: