New technology innovations – and the startup companies formed to commercialize them – increasingly have their beginnings in university research labs.
And it's more likely that PhD students, not faculty, form the initial idea for a new technology. While in later stages these ventures resemble typical technology startups, they experience a different early development process, decision points and potential conflicts that can make or break an innovation's chances of making it to market.
"From Lab Bench to Innovation: Critical Challenges to Nascent Academic Entrepreneurs," a new study released today by the Kauffman Foundation, examines the particular experience of nascent academic entrepreneurs (NAEs) and the implications of this experience for universities and policymakers. The study is among the few to focus specifically on this important group of entrepreneurs at the individual, rather than institutional, level.
Author Roman M. Lubynsky, senior venture advisor, MIT Venture Mentoring Service, followed and analyzed the experiences of 10 NAEs involved in eight ventures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all of whom were enrolled in the university's Venture Mentoring Service.
The cases spanned the product life cycle from idea to commercialization across a range of technologies and industries, with data collected through interviews, observation and archival data.
Lubynsky defines an NAE as a faculty, staff or student researcher at a university who has left the university, or intends to leave, to devote full-time attention to the development of a company based on research that originated at the university in which he or she was involved, and which has not yet achieved real economic activity through sales of the product or services.
Key study findings include:
Based on these findings, Lubynsky also provides recommendations for both individual NAEs and university research labs and entrepreneurship programs to better support the unique process and requirements of academic ventures and improve their chances of successfully reaching the marketplace and contributing to the U.S. and global economy.
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