Research results can be revolutionary and potentially highly rewarding to the researcher, but facilitating the transfer of knowledge gained from research to the wider world can be difficult. In order to help researchers locate finance and support for this transfer, the ERC has set up a Virtual Venture Fair to ease connections between ERC funded scientists and possible investors. The newly created pilot platform aims to facilitate the translation of cutting edge research by pairing the interests of researchers and specialised investors, to their mutual benefit.
Avoiding the Valley of Death
Researchers often need private funding to transform their scientific breakthroughs into potentially useful applications, but it can be difficult for fundamental researchers to attract the specialised investment they need for their business ventures. “Deep tech” research for example, can be intimidating to non-specialists, and businesses built on research of this nature typically require more money and a long time to develop.
For these reasons, investors who operate at the early-stage of the investment spectrum can shy away. Venture capitalists generally want to invest in an established business, which is often not a step researchers have taken. The gap between financing from public to private funding, can be an insurmountable obstacle.
At the same time, the long-term “patient” investor, with an eye for high risk/high return projects, can also need help to identify appropriate projects to support.
“(Investors) are all looking for the new-new things. The thing is, the new-new things are already there. They’re sitting somewhere in a file at a university, while they would better serve humanity by being licensed out, transferred to industry, or spun off into a new startup.” Ian Sosso, Managing Partner, Monte Carlo Capital. Source
One way out
The ERC’s new digital platform, the ERC Virtual Venture Fair, is working to bring ERC funded researchers closer to the right type of investor. Using an online deal room, researchers can share information with investor networks, funds, angel investors, accelerators and incubators and other organisations who are specifically looking for ventures backed by leading scientists. For their part, investors who join the platform will be able to scout and screen ERC-funded ventures looking for support, using a system that facilitates deal-flow management.
Who is using the platform?
The platform is open to any entrepreneurial endeavour created to exploit an idea, technology, intellectual property right, or start-up company originating from a research team funded by a ERC Proof of Concept grant, as these researchers have already taken initial steps to convert their research results into potentially marketable uses.
For example, a research project based in Italy that previously received ERC funding for use in an application developing bio-imaging for light-guided surgery, is now seeking funding for further applications including a luminescent solar concentrator and time-gated recycling of plastic.
Another German based researcher who used an ERC grant to investigate psychological factors that interfere with eating is now looking for more support for an app to support healthy eating and exercise through smartphone based interventions.
If you are an ERC funded researcher or an investor who wants to connect with the labs of some of the best researchers in Europe, contact the ERC. As we find with our researchers, sometimes pure curiosity can bring unexpected benefits!