According to the National Business Incubation Association, there were over 1,250 incubators in the United States as of October 2012 (!), and that number surely grew in 2013. By way of comparison there were just 12 incubators in the United States in 1980.
Incubators are often one component of a larger entrepreneurial ecosystem consisting of physical co-working spaces, new and experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, assorted venture capital and angel investors. Unfortunately the law of probability suggests that only a small percentage of the accelerated startups emerging from these communities will become self-sustaining. But all this accumulated experience – from successes and even more so from failures – should not go to waste.
The many entrepreneurs who have recently worked on software or web applications may wish to consider, either now or in the future, turning their attention to the challenge of bringing hard science innovation from universities to the general public. In other words, they should consider the technology transfer process. The incubators and accelerators can help. These entities have not yet begun to effectively connect with, and explore the technology available at universities and research labs.
We think there are several reasons why incubators/accelerators have not, yet, taken advantage of the tech transfer process. First, while university technology transfer offices often make data about licensable discoveries available on their website, this information, without much more context, is not as immediately actionable as it could be for entrepreneurs, their mentors and the incubator communities. Second, investors coming from tech – especially software – do not have much experience with the technology transfer process, and expertise from successful university licensees tend to remain siloed within life sciences or niche engineering and materials science. Collective IP solves these two problems.
In the coming months we will delve into the incredible opportunities presented by university research discoveries, and how local entrepreneurial ecosystems – including experienced entrepreneurs moving on from software and web applications – can benefit from the tech transfer process.
Posted in Innovation Intelligence
In a recent opinion piece published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled “Changing the academic culture: Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement” the authors suggest that the reason universities have been slow to take on their proper role in the innovation economy is because of “a lack of change in incentives for the central stakeholder, the faculty member.” The authors argue that “universities should expand their criteria to treat patents, licensing, and commercialization activity by faculty as an important consideration for merit, tenure, and career advancement, along with publishing, teaching, and service.”
We certainly agree. And if such incentives lead to more tech transfer success it will create a positive feedback loop which will further incentivize faculty.
But the production of patents is only one small part of the process of going from pure research to successful enterprise. There is a long distance to be travelled between obtaining a patent and the licensing of that patent to a startup for purposes of creating a company. And then an even greater distance to be travelled in making that startup a success, so that it generates meaningful licensing revenue back to the university.
We think “commercialization activity” should include participation in the local startup ecosystems (i.e. the broader community of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, etc.) The university can help, by providing for example, meeting and work space, research assistance and a variety of other value-add resources.
Aligning incentives more closely to the innovation economy, as the authors suggest, is a great idea, but in a vacuum it may have little impact. Effectively and efficiently connecting those faculty, who are amenable to a commercial lens on their work, with the broader community of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and local startup ecosystems would likely yield a greater impact. Collective IP works diligently to lubricate this university/faculty connectivity with industry. We invite you to participate, start by identifying your university here: https://www.collectiveip.com/technology-transfer.
Collective IP, the global leader in Innovation Intelligence, features the world’s most comprehensive and accurate organization of technologies residing within universities, companies and research institutes.
We provide unrivaled access to licensing and acquisition opportunities around the globe thereby saving time and money for those engaged in the identification of time decaying assets, due diligence, competitive intelligence and intellectual property strategy.
It takes many constituents to bring a nascent technology to market: inventors, investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, experts in intellectual property and finance, and so forth. In recent years we have seen these groups coalesce into what we call the Innovation Intelligence ecosystem. One critical component, we believe, to the acceleration of commercializing new technologies is university discovery and the role of technology transfer, which thus far have been underutilized due to the unstructured nature of content emanating from this global research network.
Our platform captures and illuminates ideas at their earliest stages and maps the evolution of a technology from inventor and their body of work to grant winning, invention disclosure, patent application, publication, IP issuance and commercial launch. By uniquely organizing technology transfer offices at universities and research institutes, public and private companies, and the innovators who inhabit these entities, Collective IP provides a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that reveals the world of global innovation like no other. Collective IP also tracks and uniquely organizes the diverse repertoire of individual researchers who form the foundation of the Innovation Intelligence ecosystem.
Looking to find the latest technology for “intelligent automated assistants”? We have it. Everything about SIRI and Apple, the inventors, the patent estate … you name it, it can all be found in Collective IP.
At our core we believe Collective IP will bring creators and consumers together faster, cheaper and more efficiently than ever before. This advance in connectivity will usher important ideas and transformative technologies to market which in-turn will improve our quality of life and the conditions of the world we inhabit.
Yeah, kinda a big mission for a little company in Colorado but when a dedicated team is driven by the shared desire and passion to make the world a better place, anything is possible…
And I very much look forward to hearing from you!
Here we go…