Can VC bridge the divide between Universities and the Industry?

We have been following the IP 2014 conference at Boğaziçi University in the last two days. One of the main subjects was university-industry partnerships. Research institutions were criticizing the industry because of their reluctance to R&D, whereas panelists from the industry were measuring their R&D performance with square meters of technopark space they built.

Another colleague who is managing a TTO was telling the needs of their local industry were being found too primitive (not to be leading an invention to be published) by the academics or if the research subject is good, the industrialist were requesting full IP ownership which is an unfair model.

Although Venture Capital is not a solution for all, it might play a critical role as a catalyst for the above defined problems.

We seek a technology and innovation which enables a competitive advantage in our targets. Therefore Venture Capital pushes the companies to have or to build IP within their enterprise. One of the companies in our pipeline had a good business model in an emerging market segment, but the products they were going to deploy was going to be imported. After two months they met with us, they added critical R&D components into their business plan, they partnered with two research groups from two Turkish universities and applied for R&D grants. We will be conducting a DD on its technology whether this is a cosmetic move or not. But in any case we drive a push function.

On the other hand, for TTO originated projects or university spin offs, we are a partner having different objectives than the industry. As long as we hit our return targets, we don’t have an agenda to own or roll the IP into our enterprise, instead we have aligned interests with the universities and the inventors once we become partners.

I believe Turkish VC market can easily capture yearly about 50m USD investment (as a comparison Israel receives 1bln USD investment per year constantly since 2002) with increasing volumes each year. This now requires about ten investing VC Funds to be in the market, where only two investing funds we have (as a comparison Israel has 70 VC funds). And VC may bridge the divide between the universities and the industry with measurable results.