Pushing for commercialization of new technology
The installation of LED lights in the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field last year was a memorable moment for me. I was reminded of the struggles I had to endure as I started my own business after quitting a stable job despite my wife’s opposition. It was not easy to commercialize the technology, and I still run the “Crazy Lab” right next to my office to develop new technologies.
I’ve been relatively lucky. I constantly survey technology trends, and it is rare to see research results at colleges and institutes successfully being commercialized by companies.
Why is commercialization of new technology so difficult? I can see three reasons.
First of all, there are not enough funds, as it costs several tens of times more to make usable products than research and development. In order to refine the technology developed in the labs to be used in real products, it takes great time and investment. Research outcomes from labs often die out in the process of being commercialized, and we even call it going through the “Death Valley.”
Another reason is the lack of professionals who can serve as bridges between companies and universities. There need to be professionals who can study the technology and market trends, set up research strategies, prepare business plans to meet the demands of the companies, and protect research results with patents for the prospect of commercialization.
Lastly, the cooperation between industry and universities is still limited. In fact, cooperation between individual professors and companies is pursued in various forms, but they are mostly at personal level.
This time, the Ministry of Education is to offer full support for projects that commercialize creative assets so that universities can utilize research outcomes. I welcome the project, as the role of universities that have research in various fields is very important in the era of technology convergence. By supporting the technologies with commercial potentials, research outcomes will pass the Death Valley, and universities and companies can cooperate closely. As a businessman, I would like to see industries booming and employment environment improved. Moreover, I hope universities and colleges in Korea can go beyond the limits of academia and transform into a new model of cooperation with industry.
*Kim Duk-yong CEO of KMW