June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
12.1520.1 - 12.1520.18
The University of Maryland’s VentureAccelerator 1. Introduction
In the 21st Century, universities will play a central role in the health of the US “innovation economy”. According to a recent National Science Foundation report, in 2004 science and engineering expenditures at universities and colleges amounted to almost $43B, with $27B from the federal government, $2B from industry and the remaining $14B from state and local government, institutional and other sources.1 This funding provides an exceptional foundation for new scientific discovery, as well as for the advancement of applied technologies.
Unfortunately, a relatively small percentage of these new discoveries ever translate into long- term commercial successes. Several impediments, both institutional and market-driven, conspire to keep inventions from finding their way into, or better yet becoming the foundation of, commercial ventures. Examples of institutional impediments include: (a) lack of market acceptance for university licensing practices, (b) conflict of interest concerns for faculty, particularly within public universities, (c) lack of alignment between publication of findings and application for patent protection, and (d) weak or nonexistent entrepreneurship culture and education for science and engineering faculty and students. Common market impediments include: (a) limited initial seed-stage funding for the development and improvement of prototypes, (b) the difficulty of creating functioning early-stage management teams and (c) the mismatch between talents required for commercialization and a university’s traditional career rewards.
Two other factors hamper technology venturing on campus. First, most US universities do not have reliable venture-building expertise at the seed-stage level. Venture-building expertise includes access to funding and team-building networks, as well as experience in planning and launching ventures. Second, most regions suffer from inadequate hands-on, seed capital resources willing to invest early in the life of a new technical venture. These voids in a region’s venturing ecosystem discourage many technologists within universities, and other institutions, from embarking upon the commercialization of innovations.
Given these impediments, to achieve their most effective role in the innovation economy, research universities require new, more aggressive models of commercialization. Traditional models of Intellectual Property (IP) licensing are insufficient alone to unlock the untapped commercial opportunities stemming from scientific and technical discoveries on campus.
One of the most promising paths forward is the creation of formal programs that empower students and faculty to take an active role in commercializing their inventions through new company formation. Such a program requires more than information and education; it requires direct, hands-on assistance with most facets of business formation, planning, networking, financing and team building. United States colleges and universities have a tremendous untapped entrepreneurial resource in their students and faculty.
Recently, the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering, through its VentureAccelerator Program, has pioneered the provision of specific and dedicated services for
Laughlin, S., & Magids, S., & Barbe, D. (2007, June), University Of Maryland's Ventureaccelerator Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2379
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