Investment Through Cooperation
A commercialization engine is an ecosystem with independent resources working together to bring ideas to market. One example of a "naturally evolved" commercialization engine is Silicon Valley where entrepreneurs and investors work together closely in an effort to bring ideas to market quickly. Silicon Valley appears unstructured; but, still very powerful ecosystem for new businesses creation.
Attempting to directly replicate Silicon Valley can be foolish. The same combination of research intellect, entrepreneurial capital and other characteristics that gave rise to Silicon Valley doesn’t exist many places. Still, it is possible to build different types of commercialization engines around the country that accelerate the movement of concepts into successful ventures. Clearly university research can and should act as the idea source for new ventures. Extensive alumni networks can serve as industry experts and experienced managers while MBA, JD and other student labor can perform much of the work necessary to bring and idea to market.
By tapping into the love of ones alma mater, a start up can make significant strides in turning an idea into a business before ever raising outside equity capital. As the quality of start ups in a region rise, investment capital will follow to exploit the opportunities and encourage further development of quality business ideas.
Unstated assumptions can be detrimental to developing a beneficial working relationship between entrepreneurs and investors. The Commercialization Engine should help both sides communicate thoughts and concerns effectively.
The resources provided to entrepreneurs by universities can be overwhelming. Knowing when to apply for grant and investment funding and recruit diverse stake holders while remaining in compliance with laws and regulations is a full time undertaking.
Grants are a primary source of funding for universities and large contract research organizations. In start ups, grants have a more nuanced role and are often better viewed as a supplemental funding source rather than a primary one.