The story below published in the June 25 NYT merits further development. We are compiling data on other successful University start-ups and incubators such as the M.I.T deals in the article. The boom in campus incubators with a focus on commercializing inventions and nurturing start-up companies really got accelerated in early 2000 following the 90’s tech bubble. Many of the leading tech and biotech companies of today got seeded as a University patent or owe their product breadth to licensing from the top fifty universities in R&D funding particularly the top ten.Many of the most succesful companies were created in a Darwinian sense i.e. discovered by venture capitalists or relentlessly pursued by an inventor entrepreneur.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
“But even in such a challenging fund-raising environment, analysts say many universities continue to embrace old-fashioned methods for supporting and promoting potentially lucrative in-house research. Many schools have what are known as “technology transfer” offices that introduce businesses and investors to patented university research and help schools strike licensing deals.
Corporate executives and investors complain that overly rigorous, or simply overwhelmed, tech transfer offices take too long to negotiate licensing agreements. And the offices often try to sell ideas with unproven commercial relevance.
“It’s the way engineering was 50 years ago,” says Mr. Deshpande. “They’d design something, and then hire marketing people to peddle it. You wouldn’t do that now without understanding the customer’s needs.”
One issue discussed in the article is the merits of government sponsored research to fund proof-of-concept centers. What has not been mentioned is that the really big issue of today is not the “old fashioned” process but the lack of early stage capital from all sources-universities,government,angels,venture capital and corporate.
Here is our take from May 2009 and things have gotten worse: