, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 249-258,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 08 Feb 2008

Proof of concept centers: accelerating the commercialization of university innovation


Innovation drives economic growth. Economic growth leads to longer, healthier lives by transforming yesterday’s luxuries into better, cheaper, and more efficient goods and services. University research is a key component of our nation’s innovative capacity. In an increasingly dynamic and global economy, the institutional infrastructure is inefficient at moving university innovations to the marketplace. University researchers often face convoluted procedures with insufficient guidance to commercialize their innovations. As angel investors and venture capitalists increasingly invest in later stage enterprises (See PricewaterhouseCoopers, and National Venture Capital Association. MoneyTree™ survey report. 2007. and VentureOne, “Venture Capital Industry Report.” DowJones 2006), researchers face difficulty finding early stage funding to develop and test prototypes and conduct market research. In order to fill this funding gap and accelerate the commercialization of university innovations, a new type of organization has emerged—the proof of concept center. An analysis of the Deshpande Center at MIT and the von Liebig Center at UCSD provides valuable insight into how proof of concept centers can facilitate the transfer of university innovations into commercial applications.