Extracts from, and links to the full articles, of Coller Institute of Venture's fourth issue of its Coller Venture Review.


Can Venture Make or Break Universities?

A university’s ability to create ventures and interact with them is becoming a critical survival skill. After all, the lack of this ability is what made Harvard lose out to Stanford. And it will get worse…

University Venture stems from the realisation that the global venture ecosystem in the 21st century is changing, and the role of academia in it is of necessity going to change as well.

The traditional roles of universities – Creation of knowledge (=research), Transfer of knowledge (=teaching),  and Societal service through the use of knowledge – will remain, but their relative extent and nature are certain to change in ways still not fully understood; and universities are slow to identify the best manner they can adapt and integrate into the overall venture ecosystem – which is itself a moving target.

The necessity of coping with all this is sure to keep university players awake at night. Our issue #4 shares ideas, case studies, successes and caveats to help cope with – and survive – this challenge.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/


Universities facing the de-monopolisation of knowledge research, teaching and service

STOP: wanting to be Harvard; CAUTION: you are not in Silicon Valley; GO: your own university venture path

The change looming over universities is a symptom – their absolute control over the production and application of knowledge is de-monopolized. In most cases, universities are currently neither the best places to do research, nor the best places to teach or learn, and no longer the best in creation of new ventures for the benefit of society. Universities used to own the Inception, Transfer and Use of knowledge, but now they stand to be replaced:

  • In Research – because leading edge R&D can be carried out (and funded) very effectively in leading corporations
  • In Transfer – because the emergence of MOOC-style online learning makes the knowledge accessible anywhere, and at a cost nowhere near the rising tuition fees of academia
  • In Societal service – enabling innovative ideas to turn into ventures – because the creation of new ventures is increasingly driven by the financial and industrial worlds

Read this article for a review of this quandary universities face and the ways they can turn it into a new leadership opportunity.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/de-know-polization/

Stanford’s UniVenture Secret Sauce

Embracing Risk, Ambiguity, and Collaboration

What is the secret of Silicon Valley’s success? Hint: it’s all in the attitude

Silicon Valley is world famous for its successful ventures, from the world-changing invention of the microelectronics industry by Fairchild and Intel to Google’s meteoric success.

This situation is in turn closely tied to Stanford university’s influence. Ms. Ku, who as Executive Director of the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) at Stanford has first-hand experience with this success story,  shows us it’s all about the unique culture and attitude that formed in the valley.

Stanford is a university that revolutionized a valley that revolutionized a world – and understanding what made this possible is critical to any Univenture stakeholder.

Following an overview of the valley’s engagement with technology and venture, this article pinpoints the key factors behind this success story:

  • High tolerance for risk, experimentation, and failure
  • Collaboration among entrepreneurial programs on campus
  • Maximizing the licensing of multiple technologies through flexibility and negotiator empowerment

The Stanford secret sauce is a blend of these factors, and the results have changed the way you live and work – which is another story.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/stanfords-univenture-secret-sauce/


Utah’s Creation of a Univenture Oasis in the Desert

100+ university spinouts in 5 years

A recipe for a successful univenture program – and some hurdles to beware of

This is the story of the rise and fall of a univenture program. It presents a fascinating double-barreled case study, with critical insights about how a univenture program can be made a success, and what pitfalls must be avoided to keep it sustainable over time – both very useful lessons for other universities.

In its heyday, the univenture program at the University of Utah in the previous decade was characterized by excellent outcomes – it tied MIT by creating over a hundred startups in some five years. And then came the winding down of the program. Dr. Krueger looks at the driving factors behind this story through a lens of four relevant elements:

  • Visible, vocal leadership that establishes a clear vision
  • Understanding and managing the local context
  • culture supporting risk taking and entrepreneurship
  • Extensive ecosystem engagement

The article describes the inherent tension between a program leadership that repudiated “business as usual” and a bureaucracy that pushed back. As long as the first prevailed, the program saw excellent results; the eventual leaving of key drivers allowed inertia to take over again.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/utahs-creation-of-a-univenture-oasis-in-the-desert/

Crafting a Silicon Savannah

UniVenture in an emerging context

How to build a “Silicon Savannah” in a challenging environment

It’s easy to do university venture in the U.S. or Europe. Starting a Univenture drive in Africa is a whole different story…

University Venture programs are clearly of critical importance to Kenya’s economic future, but with the country’s first university less than 50 years old, its universities are still exploring what works and what does not in this context.

This article takes learning from interviews with the leadership of two programs that are exploring the emerging phenomenon of univenture in Kenya:

  • The C4D Lab at the University of Nairobi, the leading public university in Kenya.
  • iBizAfrica at Strathmore University, the country’s leading private university.

The author uses these interviews to inform a broad analysis of the African venture landscape. He shows that Africa’s universities not only have to catch up with the rest of the world and ramp up research activity, they also have to link academia and research to commerce and indus
try, drive entrepreneurial culture, propagate the necessary necessary skills, and provide a meeting place for like-minded people to meet and collaborate. The stakes are high indeed:  success in the univenture endeavor will significantly drive job creation and inclusive growth in the quest to elevate Africa’s economies.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/crafting-a-silicon-savannah/

Europe’s Bid for a Univenture Breakthrough

The Case of a Newly Designed Univenture Ecosystem

The EU’s gambit to close the innovation gap with the U.S.

Can European innovation catch up?

Europe needs innovative ventures. And yet it is facing a significant innovation challenge, where good ideas are too rarely turned into new products or services – despite an excellent academic research base, dynamic companies and creative talent.

The continent needs a breakthrough in order to meet this challenge, or it will fall behind; and it knows this. One response it took was the establishment by the EU of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), whose goal is to advance the capacity to innovate across the European Union, with specific societal goals in mind.

EIT Digital, a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) within EIT, has consistently mobilized talent, ideas, technologies, investments and business across Europe and beyond to stimulate open disruptive digital innovation. With centers spanning the continent, its mission is to foster digital technology innovation, entrepreneurial talent for economic growth and quality of life.

The Health and Wellbeing action line within this effort focuses on the application of digital innovation to slow down the growth of health care expenses, while maintaining the quality of life of Europe’s aging population – a goal applicable to other geographies as well. This article describes how this program works, and shares some exciting results, including:

  • gymCentral – a virtual gym application for training and rehab from home that integrates live coach support, sensors, and social interaction
  • Gamebus – a serious game that stimulates physical and cognitive activity, provides a personalized gaming experience and rewards teams for sharing healthy social, cognitive, and physical activities
  • Memorizon – an ICT tool, based on a recognized method to manage symptoms of cognitive impairment for people with early symptoms of dementia

By enabling these ventures EIT catalyzes the missing venture capability and mindset while solving very pressing problems for people and for society – a definite Win/Win.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/europes-bid-for-a-univenture-breakthrough/

Looking for a Second Miracle on the Han River

The Roots of Korea’s Leading Univenture Ecosystems: Kaist and Postech

How universities can work with both public and private partners to engage with a rapidly changing venture ecosystem

How can a university become a locus for venture? Two relatively young, yet highly regarded universities in South Korea – a public and a private one – are investigated in this article, and contribute to our understanding of how universities can work with public and private partners, at home and abroad, to achieve this goal. The article reviews the unique histories of:

  • KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), a leading public university designed under the guidance of Stanford’s legendary Fred Terman
  • POSTECH (Pohang University of Science and Technology), founded with a government directive to emulate many of Caltech’s attributes.

The interaction with industry and the South Korean government, and legislative acts aimed to facilitate technology transfer, add layers of insight to this survey of a nation’s well-thought-out univenture strategy.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/looking-for-a-second-miracle-on-the-han-river/

One Stroke, Many Colors – Univenture at IIT Madras

Programs, Stakeholders, and their Relationships

How wealth creation can be reconciled with universities’ traditional roles so everyone wins

Why does the India Institute of Technology in Madras succeed at UniVenture? Because it takes an inclusive, holistic approach.

The authors tell us that this success required interaction with a wide range of stakeholders, each with their set of expectations:

  • Current students –want more practical venture education
  • Faculty and staff – want the capacity to engage in venture
  • Corporations – want more collaboration
  • Alumni – want to contribute expertise and capital
  • The government – provides tax incentives and expects outcomes that support national needs
  • Last but not least, society at large –increasingly demands access to IITM’s expertise

Recognizing the importance of engaging with all these stakeholders, the institutional infrastructure that supports venture creation and nurturing should have multiple strands that cater to the needs of these different segments.

The authors illustrate this point with detailed cases of value creation and nurturing, and lessons learned. They identify the different components of the venture creation and nurturing process, and illustrate how they contribute to deepen the engagement with different stakeholders. Various  initiatives at IIT Madras are described, highlighting the results of the venture creation initiatives across different stakeholders.

The authors’ findings will benefit readers in other universities venturing into univenture.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/one-stroke-many-colours-univenture-at-iit-madras/

The National Science Foundation’s Lean Start-Up Push

I-Corps as a model for international university venture

Learn what the U.S. has been doing to direct academic innovation into commercial success

How does America do it?

American venture is the envy of many, and the U.S. prides itself on the ideals of the ambitious self-made entrepreneur and the existence of unlimited opportunities, and can show impressive results; but in reality, as this article shows, these results owe much to federally enacted regulations, laws and support structures that empower the move from hopeful ambition to a comm
ercially successful venture.

During the post-WWII period Congress has enacted a series of new laws that directed public resources toward innovation and the commercialization of research.  Many of these U.S. legal initiatives became models for international adoption.  For example:

  • The Higher Education Act of 1965
  • The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (PWEDA)
  • The Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act of 1980 (Bayh-Dole Act)
  • The Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982
  • The America COMPETES Act of 2007 and 2010

The article surveys these initiatives and focuses in detail on I-Corps, a flagship program launched by the NSF in 2011. This program has been able to rapidly evolve and grow by operating within the existing legal framework.

I-Corps has expanded and evolved rapidly to consist of multiple components:

  • An I-Corps curriculum for training science and engineering teams in Lean Startup principles.
  • I-Corps Teams, which are eligible for grants of up to US $50,000, are composed of the principal investigator (an academic), an entrepreneurial lead (a student), and a business mentor.
  • I-Corps Nodes serve as hubs for education, infrastructure and research that engage scientists and engineers in innovation; they also deliver the I-Corps Curriculum to I-Corps Teams.
  • I-Corps Sites are academic institutions that catalyze the engagement of multiple, local teams in technology transition and strengthen local innovation.

Characterized by rapid experimentation and prototyping that mimics the performance of startup ventures, the I-Corps program is an excellent candidate for future adaptation worldwide.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/the-national-science-foundations-lean-start-up-push/

The Uniqueness of Stem Cell Ecosystems

Lessons in matching local culture

Why carelessly copying “best practices” from Stanford or MIT can kill your university venture program

Do you want to copy Stanford or MIT? Heck, everybody wants to BE Stanford or MIT. But after you read this article, you may have second thoughts.

The article looks at three univenture ecosystems dealing with the same leading-edge domain: Stem cell research for regenerative medicine. Case studies of different programs from Wisconsin, Edinburgh and Skolkovo are compared, and the conclusions are that univenture – particularly in the area of regenerative medicine – succeeds best in environments where:

  • The local entrepreneurial ecosystem is supported – with priority over specific inventions
  • Programs prepare entrepreneurs to learn from failure
  • They promote knowledge exchange across boundaries
  • They customize, not copy, in order to fit the local culture

This is a cautionary lesson for those who try to become a new “Stanford” by blindly copying “best practices”. What works in one environment may very well fail in another. Successful collaborations should be locally relevant, not copies of successful models from elsewhere; and policies that support the health of the entire ecosystem, rather than the success of specific innovations, are the most likely to generate long-term benefits.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/the-uniqueness-of-stem-cell-ecosystems/

Measuring University Venture: A Proposed Framework

Holistic parameters for measuring impact

Why our univenture metrics are broken, and how we can achieve better success by replacing them

As quality guru H. James Harrington said, “If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”

But while many universities measure their success in venture creation, all but a few elite universities have achieved only modest impact. Given this gap, the authors suggest that universities, as well as their key stakeholders, should re-evaluate the prevailing metrics used to evaluate univenture. After all, using the wrong yardstick is certain to lead to wrong results.

To date, many universities have utilized a profit-oriented framework, focusing solely on two parameters:

  • The number of new firms formed
  • The amount of licensing revenue

Only evaluating these two measures limits universities and is not conducive to them effectively managing stakeholders.

To address these limitations, the authors develop a complementary hybrid framework that incorporates more diverse performance metrics, reflecting the needs of a wider variety of stakeholders, including faculty, administrators, entrepreneurs, politicians, existing firms, and stewards of the natural environment.

Link: http://www.collerinstituteofventure.org/cvr/issue-4-university-venture/measuring-university-venture-a-proposed-framework/