ARTICLE | Strategy

Minding the seed gap

July 12, 2004 7:00 AM UTC

The biotechnology industry has its foundation in the commercialization of breakthrough platform technologies that originated in academic laboratories. But this process is neither easy nor inevitable. Indeed, the low success rates in drug development - which go down by orders of magnitude as one goes upstream in the R&D process - imply that most technologies licensed out of academia will fail. And even if academia produced commercial-ready products, most technologies are not sufficient unto themselves to be the basis of companies.

Given these daunting realities, it might seem like a miracle that venture capitalists take anything at all out of universities. Indeed, the venture community today is as divided as it has probably ever been over this issue. Some VCs remain believers in the paradigm of taking nascent ideas out of academia and building companies around them. Other VCs have decreased their trolling of university waters compared to the past in favor of in-licensing compounds from other companies(see "The Venture Split," A4). ...