I finally read Startup to IPO by Donald Macadam. It was excellent and more importantly in my time-starved schedule very concise. I think that some of the information will be very helpful to the Biotech Business Plan we (the company CEO and I) are rewriting for the local Business Plan Competition. More importantly, I think the book had some great advice for successfully starting and managing new technology & biotechnology companies. I found myself typing in a great paragraph on the important differences between “research” and “development” to email to the company CEO over the weekend. I have now passed the book onto him, filled with my sticky notes marking spots that I want to re-read.
Here is a bit of that paragraph: The difference between “research” and “development” is the former is about creating new science and it is fun, but the latter is about applying existing technologies and it is work. The proper place for basic research, the exploration of fundamental science without a preconceived goal, is the university. So-called applied research, conducted within a predefined scientific area, is the charter of governmental research institutions and is also an appropriate activity for large companies. But in any case, an early stage technology company cannot afford to fund research.
One difficulty for the CEO, in my opinion, is that many of his scientists are/were academics and thus like to focus on the fun of research and not the work of product development. As an academic scientist myself, I can see the lure but as I progress through the MBA program I become more and more goal oriented. When I think about experiments lately I find myself asking “and what do I get at the end? How does this take the project forward? Where would it go next?” Discovery is great (and fun!) but in these days of limited grant funding, I think goal/product oriented research will become the norm, even in academia.