Innovation drives economic growth. Economic growth leads to longer, healthier lives by transforming yesterday’s luxuries into better, cheaper, and more efficient goods and services.

University research is a key component of our nation’s innovative capacity. In an increasingly dynamic and global economy, the institutional infrastructure is inefficient at moving university innovations to the marketplace. 

University researchers often face convoluted procedures with insufficient guidance to commercialize their innovations. As angel investors and venture capitalists increasingly invest in later-stage enterprises, researchers face difficulty finding early stage funding to develop and test prototypes and conduct market research. 

In order to fill this funding gap and accelerate the commercialization of university innovations, a new type of organization has emerged — the proof of concept center.

What follows is an examination of two such centers: the Deshpande Center at the MIT School of Engineering and the von Liebig Center at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. 

This analysis provides valuable insights into how proof of concept centers can facilitate the transfer of university innovations into commercial applications.