More sherpas, fewer gatekeepers for research commercialisation

We can’t play the infinite game with a legion of gatekeepers standing along the road ahead.

Most of the funding sources for research commercialisation are grants administered by gatekeepers. These processes have thorough governance processes, and the gatekeepers (I have been one) can defend any decision if challenged.

It just doesn’t work that well for creating excellent research commercialisation outcomes.

The uncomfortable reality of what happens

  • An enormous admin burden takes people away from doing the work itself. Even the folks managing the funding sources are ‘administrating’ more than co-creating value.
  • There is an illusion that there is a way to document something early to describe the opportunity objectively and thoroughly.
  • It creates an ‘us and them’ mentality.
  • The final decision-makers are often a couple of steps removed from the decision leading to weaker decisions.
  • There’s no continuity as an innovation passes through the system.
  • There’s no awareness of the team and progress on the ground. This is often the most significant indicator of potential success.

What if we did it a different way?

  • Sherpas, NOT gatekeepers.
  • Relationships, NOT paperwork.
  • Co-creation, NOT judgement.
  • Skin-in-the-game, NOT arms-length.
  • Longitudinal assessment NOT point in time judgement.
  • “How might we remove the risks” NOT “This feels risky.”
  • “What else do you need?” NOT “Do you have what is needed?”
  • “Good enough and fast”, NOT “Thorough and slow.”

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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.