EUROPEAN SCIENTISTS ARE excellent at making new discoveries. Their
big challenge? Getting those discoveries to market. A recent report
explains that the European scientific community is plagued by a
phenomenon commonly known as “the Valley of Death,” in which
scientific researchers cannot attract the necessary investments to find
markets for their discoveries.
The report was written by scholars from IESE Business School in
Barcelona in Spain, Oxford University in the United Kingdom, Università
degli Studi di Perugia in Italy, the European Commission, and
other institutions. In their analysis, the co-authors discovered that
95 percent of existing European patents are inactive—largely because
their inventors lack capital. This could be because private investors
view scientific discoveries as too risky, believe they will cost too much
to develop, or think they will take too long to come to market.
However, investors who take the risk could reap largely untapped
rewards. According to the study, the 5 percent of European patents that
have been commercialized help drive more than 40 percent of Europe’s
gross domestic product. Moreover, since 2013, investment in other
types of startups has increased from US$19 billion to $134 billion, which
indicates that more venture capitalists are looking for ideas to support.
The report outlines three strategies to help researchers attract more
of this funding. First, European leaders need to create “co-investment
funds” that support the market validation
of discoveries and bring together
corporations and investors interested in
science-based startups. Second, financial
institutions need to adapt existing investment
mechanisms to better support
technology transfer activities.
Finally, European government and
academic institutions must do more
to strengthen the technology transfer
environment. For policymakers, this
would mean aligning and simplifying the
regulatory frameworks that affect European
startups. And for academics, this
would mean doing more to engage with
industry and share best practices.
Read the report, “Corporate Venturing: Insights for European Leaders in Government, University and Industry.”