One of the greatest challenges in the innovation economy is the successful transfer of research into the commercial realm. I experienced this firsthand when I spent a few years working at HP’s R&D Labs: while we were creating the future, none of the product divisions were interested in helping “productize” our inventions.
There’s no better example of this dilemma than the story of Xerox PARC, of course, and it’s a fascinating topic, but let’s just note that it’s very difficult to turn invention and innovation into a successful business.
Starting with the emergence of the dot-com era, the modern approach seems to be having students and professors duck out of the university environment and spawn their own firms, hoping that their R&D skills are useful in a more mainstream business setting. While this accomplishes the transfer, it commonly fails and, without the backing of the university or research facility, there’s an unnecessary disconnect and a dangerous break between creating a hotbed for innovation and enjoying the upside of the commercial opportunity.
But what if there was a better solution to technology and innovation transfer?
The Technology Transfer Office at the University of Colorado think they’ve hit on a better approach, one that lets the University retain partial ownership of innovations produced on campus while pairing up the researchers with local investors and business entrepreneurs.
That’s how I ended up spending this morning in a room with about a hundred other entrepreneurs and business people at the Esprit Breakfast Technology Forum, listening to some very smart research teams pitch their vision for future companies built around their own inventions…
Joint-sponsored by the CU Technology Transfer Office and the Boulder Innovation Center, the Breakfast Technology Forum featured the following groups: