A great article in the New York Times today focused on university technology transfer efforts and venture funding for start-up companies in the nanotechnology field. Besides opening some eyes to the various beneficial uses of nanotechnology, the article explains the angel and VC investors that join forces with universities in subsidizing new companies, whether that be through start-up capital or providing the machines necessary to produce these technologies. Nanotech companies frequently own one type of asset and one type of asset only: intellectual property. The use of university and private capital resources to facilitate the creation, and then the monetization, of this intellectual property is a great example of the collaborative effort needed in the IP marketplace to realize value in intangible assets.
Although the article doesn’t really breach the surface of these resources or the commercialization process, it provides a window to this world that tends to go unnoticed. This is a basic form of an IP investment deal, in which investors are betting on future revenues from an unproven technology, the foundation of which is an intellectual property right. The risk is large. The upside is larger. Such collaboration in the IP market means the future is bright.