As 2013 draws to a close, a new asset class is emerging – the joining of established and innovative technology transfer teams with university-focused venture funds, which are often affiliated to one or more universities and even part or fully financed by them.
Our review of this year’s big themes, and data on the number of university venturing funds, starts on page 20 of the magazine.
Next month, Global University Venturing will review the deal activity for 2013, once the final figures are in, and look ahead to the survey respondents’ expectations for the year.
One of the most exciting developments this year has been the willingness of universities round the world to collaborate more and accept an openness to ideas or specialisms from other institutions that can be helpful to their own administration and services.
Shelley Harrison, senior adviser to Coller Capital and executive-in-residence at New York University, in a powerful speech at our inaugural Summit in mid-October, pointed to the way the city’s Center for Urban Science & Progress was acting as a catalyst for entrepreneurialism and working with corporations and six other universities round the world. Harrison will also chair Global University Venturing’s advisory board from next year.
A similar collaborative model has started a reinvigoration of France’s tech transfer industry, while Russia-based Skoltech has recently issued its memorandum of understanding for the launch of an International Proof of Concept Association, which could complement existing bodies, such as the Association of University Technology Managers, the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2), ProTon Europe – the European knowledge transfer association, the International Strategic Technology Alliance and Praxis-Unico.
As a trade paper, Global University Venturing is keen to work with all such bodies as they continue their good work in bringing best practices and the ecosystem together.
Universities offer the chance to act as collaborative gatekeepers in this emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In a presentation at Japan-based Hitotsubashi University last month, Erik Vermeulen, counsel at Netherlandsbased healthcare company Philips and a professor at its local Tilburg University, presented insights* into how the venture ecosystem is being developed around the socalled Cs model.
The tools of financial services, encouraged by governments, universities, service providers and incumbent corporations, can come together to support entrepreneurs through the six Cs – co-ordination, connection, conversation, community, collaboration and co-creation.
Universities bring together a unique combination of talented youth with experienced teachers and mentors in an environment encouraging debate and, hopefully, creativity.
This is a lodestar around which the rest of society can congregate. Allied with government funding and the power to convene people, and corporations willing to invest in research and university startups, there is a nexus facilitating the commercialisation of the best ideas and helping to shape the world for the better, rather than allow those ideas to languish on the drawing board or gather dust as an unseen patent.
Building on this process, and with the hope that any new asset class will deliver on its promise, is the challenge for the next decade.
*Vermeulen’s insights for a European Commission expert working group paper to be published shortly stemmed from his bespoke analysis of Global Corporate Venturing’s proprietary information on 135 fund and programme launches in a 15-month period and an introduction we made to one of our readers at media group Nielsen’s corporate venturing unit, Pereg Ventures.