Essays/linkedin/24-05-13 startup studio for deep tech

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🎙️ What about a startup studio for valorizing research output from universities and knowledge institutes?

I have only a hunch, no hard numbers, that a bottleneck for valorizing research output is the lack of human resources to push through.

What I mean is that most incubators, tech transfer, funding opportunities, etc. focus on traditional value creation paths, but they often forget you need someone to execute on those plans. And this 'someone' is, most likely, a junior researcher.

However, PhD's and Postdocs are in a frenzy from one position to the next. Very few even have the mental space to consider #scipreneurship as a potential next step, and even fewer will get the support from their institutions to actually do it.

A startup studio can bridge the gap between both worlds.

A studio (as opposed to an incubator) can absorb some of the risks of creating a new venture. More importantly, it has the resources and experience to speed up value creation, and to find the path to initial product/market fit.

And this is especially true if the studio is closely linked with knowledge institutions, but independent from them.

A #scipreneur can join the studio for the tech transfer cycle, empowered by a context (both technical and intellectual) that speeds up the process. On the other hand, a project can still thrive even without a specific person committing long term to it.

What I find more fascinating is that such a studio could leverage other knowledge transfer approaches besides closed innovation. The open-source/open-hardware business model around services is hard to scale, but it can naturally fit within a larger value-creating organization.

I've seen many startups burn through money because of lack of focus, lack of an experienced board, and low ownership of the actual entrepreneurs. I've also seen many interesting projects unable to scale because the academic environment is no longer the place that can sustain them long term.

What would such a deep-tech venture studio need?

A carefully defined application focus (sci-tech, photonics, quantum, chemistry, etc.) An initial committed capital of around 5M€. An initial team of 2 people with relevant tech domain and business insights to filter through projects. A support team of 2~3 people with specific skills (mechanical design, marketing, software). An initial selection of 2~5 projects with a go-to-market path of no longer than 2 years, but ideally closer to 1 year.

I think such an approach can lead to a virtuous cycle in the knowledge-transfer cycle. It would also generate enough information to inform policies and incentives at many levels.


Heavily inspired by @Max Pog discussions on Startup studios.


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