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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262024907 | 220 pp. | 6 x 9 in | February 2001
Paperback | $5.75 Short | £4.99 | ISBN: 9780262524193 | 220 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 2003

Taking Technical Risks

How Innovators, Managers, and Investors Manage Risk in High-Tech Innovations


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.


“"An intelligently conceived, informative book. Examples are carefully chosen, and the precepts are thoroughly outlined." Financial Executive”—


“"The Charles River truly was invented. Befitting its Boston setting, and the great universities that line its banks, it is a confluence of nature, ideas, design and engineering - not to mention ideals, politics, vision and intrigue. Karl Haglund, through words and images, lovingly and intelligently tells the story of the ever-evolving, and ever-inspiring Charles."--Charles M. Vest, President Emeritus, MIT”
“"This remarkable volume traces the intellectual, educational, organizational, cultural, and human streams that flowed both naturally and by design to create the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the industrial age came to flower. Its establishment derived not only from the driving visions of men like William Barton Rogers and John D. Runkle, but also from antecedents in European technical education, externalities like the Land Grant Act of 1862, and the conceptual and institutional interplay with Harvard, Rensselaer, and Yale. This book is a treasure for those interested in the history of higher education, those interested in the development of engineering during the industrial age, and those who may wish to contemplate its lessons as our universities navigate the revolutions in biological science and information technology at the start of the 21st century."--Charles M. Vest, President Emeritus, MIT”