The UT system has three incubators, Ms. Swain noted. These incubators run into problems stemming from policy, such as private-use restrictions. “I don’t know what policy changes can be made to address them, but that is where the rubber meets the road,” she said.
Dr. Good noted that these kinds of issues were discussed in the February 24 meeting on university commercialization programs. She said she agrees that are many such impediments, and recommendations should be made to fix them.
Richard Bendis, CEO of Innovation America, offered several suggestions. He noted that several states have had innovation strategies for several decades now and update them regularly. He suggested the federal government study some of these state efforts and learn from them.
Mr. Bendis also noted that other nations, both developed and developing, have long-term innovation roadmaps. “What I hear today from the Administration is that there are a lot of programs,” he said. “I see some collaboration, but I do not a long-term integrated roadmap or plan for America that takes us 20 or 30 years out.” Somebody has to take the lead in doing that, and a federal leader has not emerged, he said.
Regarding the Valley of Death, Mr. Bendis said, a new funding paradigm is emerging. “It is not just about proof of concept. It is about proof of relevance,” he said. In order to raise risk capital, one increasingly has to go beyond proof of concept and show that a new product is relevant, which means that there is a large market, that it can be profitable, and that it can have paying customers already. “I honestly believe we have enough money in the various federal government agencies today,” he said. “If we repurpose some of those funds, where we could get a better return on investment, we could deal very adequately with the Valley of Death.” For example, SBIR should double the level of funding it offers and increase investments for Phase III commercialization. “How do we impress upon this Administration, which is trying to stimulate the economy and grow new high-paying jobs, that there is a need to proactively address the Valley of Death right now and increase investment in innovative, entrepreneurial small businesses that have led job growth in America for the past five decades?” he asked.
Jo Anne Goodnight, a program manager for NIH, noted that the NIH has developed a program called “pipeline partnerships.” This is a way for companies funded by SBIR, the Small Business Technology Transfer program, and licensees to put technologies they develop into a database. Research projects are arranged by disease category and stage of clinical testing. “This allows them to showcase those technologies to an audience of investors and strategic partners,” she said. It also helps agencies share information. This year, the NIH is working to expand the program’s reach, such as by including technologies developed at universities.
An audience member suggested other issues that the government should study. She complained that the Bayh-Dole Act has had a chilling effect on universities and that its provisions should be reviewed. She also said a lot of federal programs are outmoded and should be re-thought. For insistence, Small Business