THERE IS A PROBLEM IN Leveraging University-Based R&D !!
Relative to science and technology, there is good news. Many nations, including the US invest heavily in scientific research and development (R&D). The US alone expends over $100 Billion annually in R&D at our Universities and Federal Laboratories. The chart below shows the top 25 states, expending anywhere from $1B to $12B annually.
With this incredible level of R&D expenditures, it might seem that there is a huge opportunity to create start-up companies based on the technologies being developed. These companies could create jobs, revenue, and economic gain. Surely a significant percentage of these technologies could be commercialized.
However, as many of us in this industry well know .... it's "under-happening". Why? There are actually some very intuitively obvious explanations.
1) These institutions are not equipped to take products to market. This is not the mission of universities and federal laboratories. The culture of entrepreneurship is emerging within these institutions but it's “not there yet”
2) If we go within these institutions and look behind the R&D, we find scientists, high-level life science, physical science, energy and IT researchers. This is a very busy demographic! University professors have a full teaching load, grad students, post-docs, grant proposals, publications, tenure concerns, etc. Senior scientists within Federal Labortories are leading major research teams. These people are not trained as entrepreneurs; business is foreign to many of them. They may spend 10 years and $10M developing their cutting-edge technologies, but often believe they don’t have time or comfort level to participate in a 3-6 month tech commercialization program.
So, what is now happening across both the US and Europe!? What's the solution we're offering?
A large number of Universities and Communities are now offering 3 - 6 month Tech Commercialization Programs and/or Entrepreneurship “Bootcamps” based on panel discussions, lectures, and mentoring. Some national programs require scientists to travel to Silicon Valley, Boston, or other specified locations. These are all great programs! But they require a huge investment of time. As a “first step out of the lab”, we decided to take a different approach.
In the PSW, we connect scientists with business, legal, and financial experts in a high-powered 2 1/2 day event to help them successfully cross the pre-seed gap. We take them from the point at which they're wondering if the have the basis of a start-up company to the point where the potential promise of the opportunity has been well scoped out. Because of the success of its proven methodology, the PSW is becoming an embedded part of the commercialization continuum in many regions, as a first-step in transforming academic-based R&D into investable startup companies.