Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Technological self reliance is a desired goal, pursued by all nations and towards this large investments are made in infrastructure and scientific personnel. There are R & D institutions exclusively devoted to evolving appropriate technologies of priority, identified at the national level and also academic institutions like Universities engaged in scientific research, funded from the public exchequer. With intellectual property rights recognized world wide, patenting has become a lucrative business especially in the private sector. While many technologies are developed in the laboratories, the route to industrial exploitation is strewn with countless failures as technology transfer is often hampered by inadequate linkage to and appreciation by the users, the manufacturing industry. There are many ideas floating around like industry sponsored research, setting up proving plants, limited production trials for viability assessment and setting up of venture capital assisted enterprises. Incubation center is another concept where an entrepreneur is able to get acquainted with various facets of technology application and hands on experience regarding market conditions before setting up regular manufacturing entities. The new concept of encouraging business incubator type of centers with financial assistance from out side is meant to encourage academics to convert their ideas into commercial operations.

"By providing academics like Professor Hart a bridge to the business world, M.I.T. is in the vanguard of a movement involving a handful of universities nationwide that work closely with investors to ensure that promising ideas are nurtured and turned into successful start-ups. At first glance, the centers look like academic versions of business incubators. But universities are getting involved now at a much earlier stage than incubators typically do. Rather than offering seed money to businesses that already have a product and a staff, as incubators usually do, the universities are harvesting great ideas and then trying to find investors and businesspeople interested in developing them further and exploring their commercial viability. In the jargon of academia, the locations of such matchmaking are known as "proof-of-concept centers," and they're among a number of new approaches to commercializing university research in more efficient and purposeful ways — and to preventing good ideas from dying quietly. The first proof-of-concept center, the William J. von Liebig Center, was established in 2001 at the University of California, San Diego. So far, the von Liebig Center has helped start 26 companies that have created more than 180 jobs and attracted more than $87 million in financing. Among those companies are Mushroom Networks, a developer of online video technology, and, more recently, Biological Dynamics, a maker of early cancer diagnostic technology. "Many of the great ideas get stuck in labs because scientists don't have access to the kind of ecosystem" that Deshpande and other proof-of-concept centers offer, says Amy Salzhauer, a founder of Ignition Ventures, an investment firm based in Boston and New York that works with scientists to set up companies. "This is a way to better harvest those ideas." WHILE the von Liebig and the Deshpande centers are the highest-profile successes in this realm, similar entrepreneurial surges are occurring at other schools, like the University of Utah, Georgia Tech, the University of Kansas and the University of Southern California".

In a country like India there are many hindrances in converting a lab idea into a commercially viable venture and these include the total isolation of researchers from the potential users, industry's apathy towards scientific establishments, lack of funding for proving plants, inadequate risk coverage against failure, predominance of multi national food companies with strong foreign roots and global competence and many other factors. The fact user linked research has better chance of success is proved beyond doubt by the accomplishments of atomic energy establishment, defense oriented R&D and outer space exploration efforts.


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