4 Ways to Survive the Valley of Death

Date: November 30, 2016 Posted by: Elysia Cooper In: Tips for Institutions

There is a gap between basic research and product development is often referred to as the Valley of Death. University TTOs are faced with the challenge of tackling a mix of activities to commercialize their technologies: creating startups and spin outs, selling licenses, IP, etc. And in the mix of all of that activity they are often support pillars for research faculty and spinouts. In short, these offices require a lot of diverse activity and often operate with constrained resources.





We think that there are a few things these offices can do to continue assisting their researchers reach their commercialization potential while performing their other activities. This blog post offers a quick overview by examining the four basic ways to get started.


  1. Educate and navigate

Your researchers turn to you to for guidance on how to get their innovations out to the world; some have entrepreneurial aspirations and some just want to make sure their inventions are used. Regardless, both parties (TTO & researcher) need to understand all of the potential avenues and decide together how to proceed to advance the research.  


  1. Tap into your university

We don’t have to tell you that TTOs are doing more with less and trying to make one plus one equal three. There are ways to accomplish this – if your university has graduate business and law schools, tap into them! Cross functional work between colleges creates an ad hoc incubator while providing opportunity for students of different disciplines to apply their principles to help research success.


  1. Step outside the federal funding box

A lot of research gets lost on the road to product development for a many reasons, one is funding. While many universities rely on federal funding at their main source of income, there are other places to tap into that can help provide the resources needed for emerging technology to be transformed to product like angel investors, gap funds, SBIR, private interest groups, industry to name a few.


  1. Expand and nurture your network

A much talked about topic in business and development is, networking. The reason it is discussed in such length and detail is because it is important. While the obvious, create a network outside of your university, is important. What can be overlooked is expanding and nurturing your internal network to discover opportunities. Say for example a corporation has inquired regarding a spin out, what if the person who handles licensing has something of interest but doesn’t know? Taking a holistic internal relationship approach can help both upstream and downstream activities.


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