We believe the “Old Story” about science venturing is no longer the whole story.
Moveover, it looks to us like it is the dominance of the Old Story itself which is the primary bottleneck to unleashing the impact potential of scientific innovation, rather than infrastructure we have in place in the UK and Europe.
If we’re right, the good news is that our national scientific infrastructure is just fine. The bad news is that altering paradigmatic narratives is really hard.
The New Story about science venturing
We contend that in a rapidly growing minority of cases, an alternative narrative is true.
Companies such as MaterializeX (new composite materials optimised with machine learning) and Antiverse (in silico antibody design), Lab Genius (computational material science) and Hackscience (automating lab work), demonstrate that you can build science companies in a completely different way. These companies are all early stage, but they have grown exceptionally quickly and offer stepchanges by combining insights from scientific disciplines that have not really communicated with one another.
These sorts of companies are supported by a vanguard of ecosystem initiatives, such as:
- SOSV’s RebelBio (accelerating life science companies),
- Hello Tomorrow’s Deep Tech Founders (training PhDs),
- Cell Free’s Open Cell (providing low cost space for science companies),
- Clustermarket’s facilities access (allowing cheap flexible access to equipment)
- TUM’s BioKitchen (a biohackspace for the 21st century!)
- The University of Waterloo’s creator-owned IP policy (showing that “IP free” can be lucrative too)
- …and of course we’re part of this ecosystem too.
These initiatives and examples support the following, alternative premises:
- Science ventures can be created directly in response to market problems, rather than having to wait for inventions (market pull is possible in science venturing)
- Scientific innovation can spring directly from the intersection of ideas from fields (what we refer to as “convergent science”) that have not had exposure to one another (rather than purely from experimentation and fundamental research)
- This kind of innovation is often profound, defensible and much cheaper to develop — meaning, IP can come from places other than Universities
- This kind of innovation is within reach of early career researchers such as PhDs, Postdocs and professional researchers in commercial R&D
Read the full article here.