05 February 2013

Research, with intent to commercialize

The Ontario Centres of Excellence yesterday convened the second Technology Transfer Partnerships Forum. A highlight of the event was the opening keynote by Helge Seetzen, CEO of Tandem Launch Technologies, who spoke about the need to ensure a focus on commercialization as distinct from R&D. That is, basic R&D (invention) is important and leads to many good ideas, but we need a focused funnel approach to ensuring ideas can get to market (innovation). The invention-innovation distinction here is my interpretation of Helge's remarks, but the point is sound: we need to focus our efforts and start realizing more value from our R&D. Tandem Launch explicitly looks to leverage the large public sector R&D spend (in the US and Canada) and to mine R&D output for promising technologies, often combining these to form new companies. This instrumental approach to  commercialization as a natural product of R&D is refreshing. The path to commercialization must be based on intent. We must from the outset of R&D think about potential for commercialization, and in so doing, focus our efforts on where the market is, what customers want. This is an important point that Google's Larry Page raised in a recent interview with Wired Magazine: check out his comments on Xerox PARC.

And speaking of commercialization and innovation, an article in today's Globe and Mail shows the government's intent on furthering our focus on innovation in Canada. Implementing more of the Jenkins Panel recommendations, for example, and bringing back the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, will go a long way to helping us realize the value latent in our world leading R&D efforts. Those of us working to support public+private R&D are eagerly anticipating the NRC's concierge service, as well as industry innovation vouchers. Let's hope they make the final cut.

No comments: