Embracing Uncertainty: Value Creation by Advanced Materials Ventures

Maine, Elicia 
Lubik, Sarah 
Garnsey, Elizabeth 

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How do advanced materials ventures overcome the daunting commercialization challenges of the sector: high technology and market uncertainty over long time frames, and the need for significant complementary assets and substantial financing? Does uncertainty enhance or obstruct value creation? To address these questions, this paper draws on research on value creation, technology commercialization, and, more specifically, advanced materials commercialization, and presents new evidence from a sample of 43 advanced materials ventures. The sample ventures are compared and analyzed to elucidate risk reduction and value creation strategies. The sample is subdivided into nanomaterials, performance materials, and fuel cell ventures through a hierarchical cluster analysis, and subgroup commercialization metrics are described and compared. We argue that embracing uncertainty enhances value creation for nanomaterials and performance materials ventures but diminishes value creation for fuel cell ventures. High value creators in our sample lend further support to this argument through their commercialization strategies: reduction of uncertainty by fuel cell ventures, and embracing uncertainty by nanomaterials ventures. All of the successful advanced materials ventures commercialize radical technologies, emphasize strategic alliances, and begin demonstrating value with near-term, substitution applications.

Value Creation, Generic Technology, Radical Innovation, Technology Entrepreneurship, Advanced Materials, Technology Commercialization, Value Chain Positioning, Market for Technology, Uncertainty, Nanomaterials