A pair of newly published research papers co-authored by Wharton management professor David H. Hsu benchmark and explore commercialization drivers of academic science. The papers find that university research has produced pathbreaking innovations across many disciplines, many of which have been commercialized successfully. Yet, on average, universities capture 16% of the value they help create through licensing revenues or equity stakes in the startups their research spawns. Furthermore, some researchers and universities are much better able to commercialize their discoveries compared to others, even holding constant the discovery itself.
The first research paper, which Hsu wrote with Po-Hsuan Hsu, Tong Zhou and Arvids A. Ziedonis, is titled “Benchmarking U.S. University Patent Value and Commercialization Efforts: A New Approach” and was published this month in Research Policy. The second paper, “Revisiting the Entrepreneurial Commercialization of Academic Science: Evidence from ‘Twin’ Discoveries,” co-authored with Matt Marx, is forthcoming in Management Science.
The results suggest that universities with policies and resources devoted to commercialization efforts, aided by academic staff with commercialization experience and which are more interdisciplinary, are much more successful at translating research for commercial outcomes. Consequently, Hsu and his co-authors make a case for universities to take a closer look at the value they are extracting by commercializing their patents and intellectual property. Read More >>
To accelerate core-business and new-digital-business growth, established companies should adopt the best practices of successful start-ups.
Even with considerable resources available, many big organizations find it challenging to achieve double-digit revenue growth for new products and services—a range that for many start-ups and scale-ups would be dangerously low. But established companies can expand the market reach of their new businesses quickly and effectively by gaining an understanding of how scale-ups and start-ups operate, from their team structures and tech setup to their cultural mindset. Florian Heinemann, founding partner at Project A Ventures, a leading venture-capital (VC) firm in Europe, discusses his insights with McKinsey’s Philipp Hillenbrand about how to incorporate a start-up-like approach to marketing, business intelligence, and building high-performing teams. Read More >>
The Covid-19 pandemic has crammed a great deal of pressure into our lives, but it has also created an unprecedented opportunity to revisit our own assumptions about how we should live and work. Managers and leaders have had to balance optimism with realism and find new ways to connect although they manage their employees from afar.
These exaggerated tensions and pressures can be a double-edged sword. Research suggests that whether people struggle or thrive with tensions, or competing demands, largely depends on their mindset. With a paradox mindset, tensions can be transformed into new ideas and improved performance. The paradox mindset suggests an alternative perspective, one in which we accept and learn to live with the tensions associated with competing demands.
Over the last few months, for example, scientists and pharmaceutical companies raced to develop beneficial treatments and test kits for Covid-19. The limited availability of test kits was a challenge as medical workers needed to quickly survey large populations to trace asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers. Apparently, working under pressure is an impetus for creativity.Read More >>
Even in the best of times, starting a business is like running a marathon with the odds stacked against you. In a global recession, you also have to endure the headwinds of reduced consumer spending and more selective investors. If legs of steel were essential before, they are absolutely critical now. You may also need a new strategy.
Many startup founders swear by the Lean Startup method, popularised by serial entrepreneur and software engineer Eric Ries in a 2011 book of the same name and taught in business schools and accelerators around the world. The method entails finding out customers’ problems and needs, obtaining feedback and building a minimum viable product (MVP) to test demand. The idea is to learn quickly and iteratively through experimentation and feedback, and quitting or pivoting when the original idea falls through. But there is a way to improve the Lean method itself. Read More >>
Success in this new era of accelerated disruption requires a holistic approach to technology. In the current era of disruption, recently accelerated by the pandemic, firms must be in command of cutting-edge technologies; otherwise, they face potentially mortal danger. For example, the introduction of the smartphone was not initially seen as a game-changer for the taxi industry. But by making ride-hailing apps like Uber, Grab and Gojek possible, Android and iOS devices helped trigger the turmoil that industry is now enduring. And even as these apps were disrupting the taxi industry, automakers were mistakenly ignoring them as a potential threat to their business. To avoid being blindsided, leaders must proactively scan the landscape of emerging technologies and strategically leverage innovation to transform how their company does business. In other words, they must shift their mindset from product-focused innovation to process-focused innovation or, as it is better known, business model innovation (BMI). Read More >>
What makes a great brand name so … great? Why are names like “Joy” and “Tide” so successful—and how the heck does a name like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” break all the rules, but still manage to win us over? Names, of course, matter. The name should tell a story that directly or at least indirectly ties to the product itself, its reason for being, and consumer needs/wants. A great example is Peloton, the new home exercise equipment company best known for its digitally connected stationary bike. In cycling parlance, a “peloton” is a group of cyclists at the front of the pack. This name is obviously relevant to cycling and leadership, but also speaks to the fact that via the online community, home cyclists are connected to each other—a “virtual pack.” “Form follows function, but both report to emotion,” said Willie Davidson, superstar designer and grandson of the founder of a certain motorcycle company. Emotion is the king of the jungle in marketing and innovation, and it certainly wins in naming. A great name is essentially a short ad for the product, evoking feeling and inspiring some kind of action (consciously or unconsciously). Generally speaking, names should be as short as possible and roll off the tongue. Brevity is important not just because short names tend to be more memorable, but also because they make it easier for your design team, which has precious limited real estate to work with when creating packaging labels and other elements. Read More >>
Blue Origin, along with its partners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, was one of three companies to be awarded contracts by NASA to develop human lunar landers for future moon missions. Blue Origin’s so-called “National Team” is focused on developing a Human Landing System (HLS) for NASA to support its efforts to return human astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024, and on September 14, 2020 it announced that along with its partners, it has achieved the first crucial step of defining the requirements of the mission, including any space and ground vehicles used. This is a key first step, which amounts to having established a checklist of thousands of items that will make up the parameters of the National Team’s HLS mission. It means that the company can now move ahead to further NASA reviews and ultimately, the preliminary design phase. Ultimately, the HLS will be made up of a descent element supplied by Blue Origin, as well as a reusable ascent element provided by Lockheed Martin, and an orbital transfer element from Northrop that gets the lander in position for its last-leg trip to the lunar surface. Read More >>
Necessity is the mother of invention. Indeed, during the global corona-virus crisis, the world needed to move work, education and play to the digital realm very quickly. Innovation in such times is crucial, but may also increase inequalities among countries, sectors and groups of population. As the world continues to face a prolonged, massive health crisis, and prepares for the accompanying economic and social shocks, the question of “Who Will Finance Innovation?”, the theme of this year’s Global Innovation Index (GII), is critical in solving the seemingly insurmountable problems ahead of us. Any crisis calls for a variety of short-term responses to the emergency at hand. But longer-term objectives must be safeguarded. Innovation financing is generally regarded as a long-term investment (especially in science and technology); a growing concern is that it may be sacrificed to more immediate economic and social demands. The impact of the current crisis on innovation is uncertain and highly dependent on a range of recovery scenarios, as well as business and innovation practices and policies. In any scenario, financial resources – both private and public – will be strained. Countries and corporations alike might find it harder to pursue investments and innovation. Historically, pandemics have been followed by sustained periods of depressed investment. Investment rates are already low to date, including foreign direct investment, which is now expected to drop sharply in 2020 and 2021. Fundamentally, the pandemic has not changed the fact that the potential for breakthrough technologies and innovation abounds. The GII continues to support and foster innovation through challenging times. At this juncture, with increased unilateralism and nationalism, it is important to remember that most economies that have moved up the ranks in the GII over time have strongly benefited from their integration within global value chains and innovation networks. Read More >>
Covid-19 is an opportunity for businesses to build a new normal that is more human-centric, imaginative and agile. For certain firms, Covid-19 has infused new meaning into the old cliché that a crisis is just an opportunity in disguise. Before the pandemic, digital companies such as Amazon and Zoom were competing not only with incumbents but also with conventions that refused to die, such as the handshake and the clearance sale. Now, Covid-19 has disrupted the old ways, leaving these already cutting-edge firms with even less competition and much more freedom to innovate. Of course, one company’s fertilizer of adversity is another’s manure. For example, the airline industry is struggling to adapt the interiors of commercial airplanes to the demands of social distancing. Indeed, airplane seating has looked much the same for decades. And there are good reasons why. Even minor changes to the internal layout may have serious implications for safety, weight distribution, etc. In short, many incumbents are now confronting design and creativity challenges. To be sure, merging business and design comes with a great many hurdles. Despite these tactical difficulties, Covid-19 is probably the greatest catalyst to innovation the world has seen in a long time. Indeed, success after the pandemic hinges upon business leaders using this unprecedented moment to produce a step-change along three dimensions of innovation: human-centricity, creativity, agility. Read More >>
Even with a backer like Microsoft, innovators must outrace copycats like Facebook and others who share the spoils of imitation among themselves. At first glance, TikTok is facing an existential threat. Not only is the wildly popular short video-sharing app banned in India and now forced to be spun off in the United States from its Chinese owner Bytedance, it also has to fend off copycats like Facebook’s Reels. But TikTok may have a secret sauce that allowed it to thwart Facebook’s earlier imitation attempt, and that may yet secure its future: the ability to recombine existing know-how in a market as complex and fast-moving as tech-based entertainment. In the game of digital innovation, imitators often outrace the original innovators. Spotify is another great example of a firm that has outsmarted copycats with complex continuous innovation. Its music streaming service manages to combine a dynamically changing user-interface, behavioral prediction algorithms and a bulging music catalog. Spotify learns its customers’ preferences and uses predictions to suggest content that will keep them coming back. Recombination is but one of three types of in-house knowledge mobilization that can facilitate innovation. The other two are transfer (employees teaching one another) and collaboration (employees working together). Whether to invest in innovation in the face of imitation continues to be one of the most important problems that companies face. It is recommended that firms grappling with the innovator’s imitation dilemma consider the sort of in-house knowledge mobilization they invest in; the nature of the technology and whether it may lead to knowledge spillover-sharing by rivals; and the pool of rivals itself. The solution to the dilemma requires a deep understanding of the complex interplay among these factors. Read More >>