What do you do with 10,000 scientists who have brilliant ideas but no clue how to make those ideas sustainable outside of a research lab?
That was the question that challenged Dr. Errol Arkilic in 2011 in his then role as a program director for the National Science Foundation (NSF). As Errol notes in a 2015 interview with Steve Blank, “a consistent theme we recognized at NSF, was that a lot of the startup companies [we were funding] really weren’t practicing what we knew to be the best and most effective way of taking technologies out of labs” (Huffington Post 2015). These innovative scientists had brilliant ideas, yet their visions for growth were trapped by the technical limitations of their fields. With Steve Blank and his Lean Launchpad Program, Dr. Arkilic led the NSF in their creation of the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to revolutionize both how entrepreneurship is taught and how scientists and researchers conceptualize their innovations.
And this idea worked. With over 550 I-Corps teams and 36 nodes/sites at universities around the country, the NSF I-Corps is on par with the nation’s other accelerator giants. Dr. Arkilic furthered the possibilities of success for early-stage research startups with the creation of his venture capital fund, M34 Capital. M34 Capital is “committed to commercializing the most promising technologies seeded by federally funded research.” Dr. Arkilic’s work has disrupted the notion that scientific research exists in a vacuum, because “if you are a scientist and you think that your science is addressing human needs, you better be talking to some humans,” and “if your goal is to get the technology out of the lab, it’s never too early to start thinking who the customer for that solution is” (Huffington Post 2015). This work is not just about changing the way academia thinks about research, but also changing attitudes to entrepreneurship by encouraging new partnerships that challenge the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines.
Want to learn more about Errol’s work, the NSF I-Corps, and the wild world of venture funding?
Join Creative Startups on April 26th from 6-7pm for “Dr. Errol Arkilic: From Lab to Launched!”
1121 4th St NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102