When I first joined Australia’s leading ICT Centre of Excellence, NICTA, and took charge of putting in place a tech transfer process and building a pipeline of commercial activity, I immediately recognized the need to infuse an entrepreneurial culture into the organization.
Borrowing from my experience as an early stage venture capitalist, I set up what was then a unique Entrepreneurs in Residence Program and we had an initial EiR from mid 2005.
After a very well received roadshow in Silicon Valley in March 2006 we brought on board a further two EiRs into a well structured 12 month program. The Selection Committee included three VC firm partners in the program. These VCs acted as sounding boards for the EiRs as they converged on the project they would lead to spin out.
I won’t go into details on the entire process, but will say that it produced excellent results including spin outs which were funded by some of the VC partners in the program.
I’m now pleased to be able to point to a major boost in Entrepreneurs in Residence within research labs courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Kleiner Perkins and Foundation Capital will place EiRs into the National Renewable Energy Lab and Oak Ridge National Lab. In addition, ARCH Venture Partners will place an EiR into the Sandia National Lab.
You can read more about the program here.
In my view, EVERY research lab should partner with such a program. It not only acts as a major catalyst for creating the right entrepreneurial culture, but done right can have a major impact both in terms of accelerating time to market and in getting the DNA of a successful start up right from the get go.