The Commercialization of Advanced Material Technologies by University Spin-Outs

Working Paper
Change log
Lubik, Sarah 

The field of advanced materials (AM) is expected to experience considerable growth and has the potential to make a substantial impact on numerous industries, markets and applications. Much like IT and biotech before it, advanced materials face the many commercialization challenges of revolutionary, generic technologies. AM ventures face the additional challenge of competing with established substitutes. Though there has been limited prior research on AM commercialization, the specific challenges facing AM firms at the crossroads of academia and industry have not been previously addressed. This study focuses on the challenges facing AM university spin-outs (USOs). The evolution of their business models is examined to investigate how the ventures navigate encountered challenges in order to create a resource base, create value for co-producers and customers, and attempt to capture value for themselves. A dataset of Cambridge-affiliated AM companies is used to frame and position six case studies of AM spin-outs in various stages of value creation. These cases are analyzed to gain insight into the main challenges the companies have encountered and solutions they have attempted. This evidence and analysis are used to refine the proposed conceptual framework. This research highlights the importance for AM USOs of creating and developing a business model that enables them to select an appropriate market and application, identify and attract appropriate co-producers, and build and leverage both internal and external resources in creative ways in order to generate value. Successful strategies that have been identified through the case studies include creating a partner-focused business model, early market identification, demonstrating the innovation in a system, and altering target market or market position to one were complementary assets are either available or unnecessary.

Advanced materials, open-systems theory, value creation, university spin-outs, academic entrepreneurship.
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