Materials Science Entrepreneurship
Materials science continuously revolutionize our environment. It is materials science that allows fabrication of optical fibers for fast communication networks. It is materials science which works in catalytic converters to reduce environmental pollution. It is materials science that provides us rechargeable batteries and prescribe the range of the electrical cars. And it is materials science that stands behind membranes for distillation facilities. This list can last forever. Yet, if you visit entrepreneurship events, most of them are totally dominated by representatives of computers science or electrical engineering societies. With no contempt, many of them explore similar known grounds: such as databases, social networks and commercial promotion. Besides that, while building a new machine might help your competitiveness, it is materials science that can solve the core problem and push you far above your competitors. So, why we don’t see more materials science entrepreneurships?
The answer is within three main reasons. The first one is the high entrance threshold. Many of current software and technological giants, like APPLE, GOOGLE and Microsoft started their way in a garage. Such garages cannot host chemical laboratories for safety reasons. Moreover, the characterization and analysis infrastructure, i.e. the toolbox of materials engineer is far beyond capabilities of a young company. The second reason is the wide knowledge base and the need of mutual co-fertilization which are essential for development of materials scientists. Naturally, the human resources of fresh companies are pretty limited. And if we assume that most of the entrepreneurs are young people, their experience might be limited. Academic institutions might provide partial answer to the last mentioned challenges. However, the ultimate goal of the academic groups (and the scale by which they are evaluated) is to shed more light on physical phenomena and fundamental scientific questions. Therefore, solving technological issues, technical optimization and establishment of a commercial company are not within the scope of their activity. Hence, we observe some gap between the academic knowledge to commercial or industrial application
To fulfill the gap between the pure sciences to the pragmatic applications, a help of a new player is required. This player can be a company of people with wide experience from different technological fields. They can help in technological brainstorms, to define and establish the necessary infrastructure, to find and convince the funding agencies and generally provide a technical communication path between the new born idea to its practical implementation.