Helping Scientists Commercialize Inventions
Resources abound for scientists needing to learn business basics—business language, business plan development, business partnerships—so that they can bring their discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace. Help can be found in universities, local communities, and nonprofit organizations.
“The opportunities today to aid in technology commercialization are so myriad that it can actually create a conundrum,” says Judith Giordan, partner at ecosVC, a group that develops and funds start-ups. “It used to be that you looked in one place—your industrial advisory board or people you knew in industry—or you went to a second place, your tech transfer office. Now it’s far more complex, and the more informed you are, the better the choices for assistance that you can make.”
“Entrepreneurship is hot throughout the country now,” adds Judith J. Albers, cofounder and facilitator of the Pre-Seed Workshop and managing partner of its umbrella group, Neworks. Based in upstate New York, the workshop is a two-and-a-half-day program that teams scientists with experts in business and legal issues to do a first-cut analysis of a technology’s commercial potential.
“It’s very exciting that people are starting to look at universities and federal laboratories” to see whether more of these technologies being generated can be commercialized, Albers says.
Both Albers and Giordan suggest chemical entrepreneurs look to groups like the Kauffman Foundation and the American Chemical Society, which recently launched its Entrepreneurial Initiative, for help in getting start-ups off the ground. In addition, groups including the National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance and the Angel Capital Association can help when it’s time to find and secure seed funding.
Here are some key groups and their websites:
ACS Entrepreneurial Initiative www.acs.org/ei
Angel Capital Association www.angelcapitalassociation.org
Kauffman Foundation www.kauffman.org
National Association of Seed & Venture Funds www.nasvf.org
National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance www.nciia.org
National Venture Capital Association www.nvca.org
Small Business Development Centers www.sba.gov/content/small-business-development-centers-sbdcs