Mentor Code of Conduct

The Viterbi business model competitions, including MEPC and the Min Family Challenge, are grateful for seasoned members of the corporate, investment, and entrepreneurial community to support the competition as mentors.  Mentors participate by invitation only.  Mentor candidates must demonstrate experience in coaching academic innovators, creating new high-impact ventures, and supporting all Viterbi business model competitions.

Guidelines for handling privileged information and managing conflict of interest apply for all program related meetings and activities.  By serving as a mentor, you agree to follow this Code of Conduct.

  1. The pairing or assigning of mentors to innovators will be based solely on the needs of the innovator and the best available mentor for the needs identified.
  2. No mentor may accept, for him/herself or any related party, a primary financial interest or financial relationship with a project associated with a Viterbi business model competition without first formally recusing him/herself from the role as a mentor with respect to that project and related innovator by providing the Faculty Director with 30 days written notice to allow the program to assign a suitable replacement mentor as appropriate.
  3. You must disclose to the Faculty Director any potential known secondary conflicts of interest where the success or failure of a project which you assist or oversee would potentially have material impact on any entity in which that person or related party is significantly invested or is a principal or for which such a close relationship is contemplated. In such cases, separation from the competition(s) or from the project may be appropriate if the conflict is deemed substantive by the program manager.
  4. You will act consistent with the law and will promote the best interests of the innovators who have formed a relationship with the program.
  5. The time period of commitment for each mentor is coincident with the dates of the Viterbi business model competitions, terminating immediately after the Finals for a given competition, with the possibility of renewal for subsequent competition(s) if agreed upon by both the mentor and the Viterbi School of Engineering.
  6. You will maintain regular contact with their mentees, spending at least four hours a month in one-on-one contact. This includes in-person contact, phone calls, e-mail, and project activities.
  7. You will keep the Faculty Director informed of the activities of the mentee and will participate in competition meetings and activities as appropriate.
  8. You are considered USC visitors, and therefore members of the University community, and thus you will adhere to the USC Intellectual Property Policy and the USC conflict of interest policies.
  9. You do not receive any ownership interest in any USC intellectual property simply by virtue of participating as volunteers. USC owns any intellectual property developed by a mentor in the course of his/her role as mentor, and the mentor is entitled to receive a portion of any net licensing revenue that USC receives in accordance with the USC Intellectual Property Policy.
  10. You will maintain strict confidentiality over any proprietary information entrusted to them by the innovators, including business model elements.
  11. All mentoring meetings, events, and gathering related to the program are by invitation only, are not public, and are conducted with the understanding that volunteer participants are especially invited by Viterbi competition faculty, staff, and affiliates for the review of new ideas and the mentoring of researchers on a privileged basis.
  12. Any disclosure of USC confidential or proprietary information by the mentor to a third party must be subject to a written non-disclosure agreement between USC and the third party.The program manager will oversee the formation of each relationship between mentors and innovators.
  13. These policies may be revised or otherwise updated from time to time at the discretion of USC based upon the evolving needs of the competitions, mentors, innovators and their projects.

A “related party” refers to any person whose interest in a program supported project would actually benefit, or could reasonably be perceived to benefit, a VSoE/competition staff member, or mentor (the potentially-conflicted person). Such persons would include, unless the circumstances clearly show otherwise: (a) any kin (by blood or marriage) or professional representative of the potentially-conflicted person, (b) any trust, partnership, limited partnership, or other ownership vehicle providing benefit to and under the direct or indirect control of the potentially-conflicted person or his/her kin, (c) any business entity controlled either directly or indirectly by the potentially-conflicted person.

“Primary financial interest” refers to direct equity ownership or direct compensation.