Commercialization…Not The Same as Watching TV Commercials

Who knew it was so hard to get great ideas out of the labs into the marketplace?  Apparently, brilliant banks and venture capitalists don’t automatically know that every product is or isn’t going to be a huge sensation/job creator/life changer…if they did, we probably wouldn’t have the Segway.

One of the big knocks on the stimulus package is little funding for commercialization – helping small start ups with the great new technology bridge the “valley of death” into being able to produce, market and sell their product.  I understand that ARRA is supposed to be all about jobs, but there’s plenty of money for R&D and lots for implementation of existing products and processes, so it’s funny that there’s not much for in between, except for some loan guarantees.

I was at the Washington State Energy Summit yesterday, and one of the main topics of conversation was the State Energy Program, which is going to use part of the $180 million in energy related stimulus that the state is receiving to fund commercialization of both low-risk and high risk innovative near-commericalization and commercialization-ready technologies. They have approximately $39 million, which will be given out in a mix of loans and grants in $500,000 to $2,000,000 increments. And, because it’s federal money, it’s exempt from the state’s lending of credit provisions that would otherwise prohibit direct funding of private companies! Details and application deadlines will probably be out in late summer.

This isn’t meant to be a commercial for the state, but it’s a great example of how we can’t just be focused on federal competitive grant dollars. Like I said in my last post, lots of different bites at the apple, and we need to get as many as we can.

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