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Proof of Concept Centers in the United States: an exploratory look

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Abstract

In this paper we identify the population of 32 US university-related Proof of Concept Centers (PoCCs), and we present a model of technology development that identifies the economic role of PoCCs within that model. We examine the broad technology transfer challenges that PoCCs have been established to address. Further, we argue that PoCCs are a growing technology infrastructure in the United States, and they are important as a possible element of our national innovation system.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. This September 2009 document was updated and released again in February 2011.

  2. Partners in this cooperative effort included the Department of Energy along with the Economic Development Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

  3. The six organizations that received funding included the Iowa Innovation Network i6 Green Project in Ames; the Proof of Concept Center for Green Chemistry Scale-up in Holland, Michigan; the iGreen New England Partnership; the Igniting Innovation (I2) Cleantech Acceleration Network in Orlando, Florida; the Louisiana Tech Proof of Concept Center in Ruston; and the Washington State Clean Energy Partnership Project.

  4. EERE (2011) views PoCCs within a broader context than a university, and thus they define POCCs as institutions that “support all aspects of the entrepreneurship process, from assisting with technology feasibility and business plan development, to providing access to early-stage capital and mentors to offer critical guidance to innovators. Centers allow emerging technologies to mature and demonstrate their market potential, making them more attractive to investors and helping entrepreneurs turn their idea or technology into a business.” See: http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/progress_alerts.cfm/pa_id=503.

  5. The inventor’s decision to disclose is influenced by the university’s reward systems and culture, as noted by the gray dashed arrows.

  6. See Hayter (2011) for a complete discussion of spinoff success factors discussed in the extant literature.

  7. See Rasmussen and Sørheim (2012) for a discussion of PoCCs from a public-sector perspective of bridging the funding gaps for university spinoffs.

  8. Some might take issue with the centers that we have subjectively classified as PoCCs. If this is the case, it underscores that an accepted definition of a PoCC is evolving.

  9. Year of establishment was determined from the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) data. When more than one university is associated with a POCC, the year of establishment for the oldest TTO was considered.

  10. The t value for a test of differences in means assuming equal variance is −1.07 and the t value assuming unequal variances is −1.01. This same result follows from a probit model of the probability of a university being associated with a PoCC. Also held constant in the probit model was a binary variable for whether the university was public or private.

  11. The underlying information came from the AUTM data.

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Table 4 Summary of the literature on challenges in technology transfer potentially addressed by Proof of Concept Centers

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Bradley, S.R., Hayter, C.S. & Link, A.N. Proof of Concept Centers in the United States: an exploratory look. J Technol Transf 38, 349–381 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-013-9309-8

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