strategy-resized-600According 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.