I’m a microbiologist and inventor who has observed and participated in the technology transfer process from many angles.
I love working together with inventors, universities, entrepreneurs, investors and the business community on the common goal of getting university technology from the lab into the marketplace.
I also know first-hand that it can be a struggle to get great science out of the lab, into the hands of the right entrepreneur and on the path to commercialization. It is a difficult endeavor but we’re ready to be creative about how we accomplish that goal.
That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about the Oklahoma Proof-of-Concept Center (POC), a collaboration between Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), University of Oklahoma’s Office of Technology Development (OTD-OU), Oklahoma State University’s Office of Intellectual Property Management and Licensing (TDC), Cowboy Technologies, LLC, and i2E.
We are combining forces to create a natural funnel for Oklahoma’s homegrown technologies. University-based proof-of-concept centers aren’t necessarily new and there are many models out there. The Oklahoma POC is harnessing the power of our region and leveraging everyone’s resources, expertise, and funding to nurture the development and commercialization of high priority university technologies.
Everyone involved in entrepreneurship is well aware of the “valley of death” — that period in a commercial startup’s life between prototype and paying customers — a phase where many startups fail because they run out of resources before they can produce enough revenue to either attract more investment capital or to gain traction and grow on their own.
Well, in moving scientific discoveries toward commercialization, there is a “pre-valley” valley of death where seemingly promising technologies never make it out of the lab. When we examine technologies to commercialize, we want to make sure that they are solutions that the marketplace wants and that product is usable and valued by the industry.
Here’s what we are doing at the Oklahoma Proof of Concept Center:
- Aligning the science created in the lab with what the market needs by obtaining unbiased feedback from the customer and relevant industry players.
- Validating the feasibility and functionality of technical concepts (manufacturing, scalability, etc) in a business-driven manner in order to lower the risk for an investor or acquiring company
- Identifying existing companies that might want to license the technology, perhaps because it complements or completes something they are already doing.
- Testing an invention in a relevant environment. Whether it’s testing a new type of asphalt on actual roads with construction equipment or testing a medical device on patients, we need to ensure that the final product is commercially viable.
- Having a well-structure and attainable road map for each technology matched to the appropriate resources and capital.
As the POC collaboration moves forward, we have the potential to significantly increase the deal flow pipeline in our state. We have exciting and active sources of risk capital. We have remarkable scientists and tenacious engineers.
By joining forces across the state and not duplicating or adding infrastructure, but combining energy to share expertise and gain efficiency, we believe we can get more deals out the door.