Taking Technical Risks
How do technology innovators, business executives, and venture capitalists manage the technical elements of business risk when developing and launching new products? Overcoming technical risks requires crossing the so-called valley of death—the gap between demonstrating the soundness of a technical concept in a controlled setting and readying the product technology for the market. Crossing the valley of death may mean bringing university-based research to the point where it appears viable to venture capitalists, or bridging the cultural gap between technical innovators and the managers who are being asked to risk their institutional resources. In every context, purely technical risks are coupled with the market risks inherent in innovation.
In this book Lewis Branscomb and Philip Auerswald address early-stage, high-tech innovation in the context of business decision making and innovation policy. The topics addressed include the extent to which purely technical risk is separable from market risk; how industrial managers make decisions on funding early-stage, high-risk technology projects; and under what circumstances government can and should act to reduce the technical risks of innovative projects so that firms will invest in them. The book includes contributions by Mary Good, George Hartmann, James McGroddy, Mike Myers, Michael Roberts, and F. M. Scherer.
About the Authors
Lewis M. Branscomb is Aetna Professor in Public Policy and Corporate Management, Emeritus, at Harvard University.
Philip Auerswald is Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy and an Assistant Professor at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. He is co-editor of Innovations: Technology | Governance | Globalization and author or co-author of numerous books, reports, and research papers, including Taking Technical Risk: How Innovators, Executives, and Investors Manage High-Tech Risks (MIT Press, 2001) and Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response: How Private Action Can Reduce Public Vulnerability.
—Robert S. Langer, Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, MIT, Recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention and innovation, and holder of 350 patents
—John Seely Brown, Former Director of Xerox PARC and co-author of The Social Life of Information
—Charles W. Wessner, Director of Project on Technology and Competitiveness, National Research Council; former Director, International Technology Policy, U.S. Department of Comerce
—Charles M. Vest, President, MIT