Monday, August 26, 2013

Tech Startups Must Check Out Uncle Sam's Tech Innovation Systems

I can't seem to get enough high-tech startup action these days.  Everywhere I turn someone slings a new source of insight my way.  I love reading the stuff that comes out of Innovation magazine from Technology Ventures Corporation.  It should be required reading for anyone in America's disruptive class.

Did my fellow disrupters know that TVC has a TechWhiteboard chock full of government-funded innovations just waiting for some entrepreneur to commercialize them?  Well now you do, and TVC isn't even paying me anything to say so.  Those concepts are at varying Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) but their developers are passionate enough to show them off to investors.  You'd better get cracking on making marketable products out of those inventions and discoveries, because the Task Force on American Innovation has issued a bunch of reports documenting our country's eroding edge in research and development.  The warning bells on this slipping lead have been sounding ever since the National Academy of Sciences published "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" in 2007.

Just don't count on more help from Uncle Sam than what he's already giving.  DOE's Technology Commercialization Fund looked good on paper for a few years but it seems to have been superseded by other EERE commercialization initiatives.  It took a gaggle of private groups from left, right, and center to publish "Turning the Page: Reimagining the National Labs in the 21st Century Innovation Economy" to jump start a redesign of the government's innovation ecosystem.  Policymakers running the national lab system need to check out Brookings' Center for Technology Innovation to see the gaps that current policy leaves unaddressed.

The answers to many technology problems are buried somewhere inside the components of the Federal Laboratory Consortium.  The entrepreneur's job is to go digging.  I started digging years ago.