12 June 2013
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
The ways that technologies move from their academic inception points to a business setting is changing in rich and dynamic ways. Previously, the majority of transfer happened in the bio-tech, semiconductor-tech, and Defense industries, as academic laboratories were ideal locations to perform research to then be smoothly handed off to companies. Beyond this model, however, there is a possibility for more socially motivated spinoffs in the world of health care, poverty reduction, education, and conflict reduction. These technologies are logically spurred by the long, forward-thinking gestations that academic projects employ. However, they see more hurdles in a business community that is focused on limitless markets, viral growth, and calculable profit returns. Even though more challenging to develop, these "Social Impact" ideas are worth the extra effort. I will argue that academics are the ones best suited to put in this extra effort. The example I will focus on is my own experiences transitioning a technology meant to greatly reduce the risk of nuclear accidents and terrorism throughout the world. The product is an nexpensive, easily deployable neutron detector that can detect Plutonium passing through shipping ports or border crossings for much less cost than traditional technologies. The long term strategy is to use the low price point to create more demand by enabling other countries to have nuclear security regulations that are currently cost prohibitive. This strategy is risky and less appealing to traditional investment channels, and is not something that military industrial companies are interested in, yet the safety and threat reduction advantages are clear. I will describe how I've begun to build this company by taking advantage of the best that the academic and business worlds in Boston have to offer, using tools such as business mentors, law firm cost deferment, and accelerator programs.
Inglis, Andrew - Boston University - Boston