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.
Check out this video about the X PRIZE Foundation’s latest endeavor – the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
It’s being seen as the start of Moon 2.0 and totally rocks.
I wonder what an Australia 2.0 PRIZE would entail? I’d imagine it would need to have some environmental component — water desalination, terraforming…
Wagner James Au poses the question in the title of a blog post: Virtual Worlds as Eco Incubators.
He notes that Second Life was originally conceived as a model of the real world replete with a working ecosystem of flora and fauna. Hmmm, that explains why Accel Partners passed on them as an investment even though they’d essentially incubated Linden Labs for two years.
Besides the microcosm that has since been created in SL, the interesting trend to note is corporations like Cisco and IBM focusing on the eco footprint reduction benefits that come with having an increased presence in virtual worlds. Less travel = lower footprint.
The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced a pending bill that will progress his $10bn water plan. It seems it’s not only the country’s most senior politician who has embraced environmentalism, but there is greentech innovation taking place all over the country.
In addition, the handful of early stage venture capitalists operating in Australia have also noticed an uptake in this area. Ben Woodhead of The Australian has covered this trend here and here.
It’s not only Australians who are jumping on the greentech wave – uber VC, John Doerr, gave a moving talk at TED earlier in the year calling on investors, entrepreneurs and those with influence to get involved in the space. As John said, hopefully we can make a difference and its not too little, too late.