Panel 1

The financial challenge in the innovation chain: The funding gap between research and the market

Innovations and innovativeness in a business context is a key determinant of competitive advantage due to its role in identifying new markets and driving revenue growth, among its other value propositions. Success will depend on a context that encourages innovation in general and nurtures entrepreneurial innovation in particular.

Early-stage startups looking for financing face particular difficulties. Such enterprises have little or no collateral to offer, and conventional financial intermediaries are unwilling to participate in the first stages of their development. For this reason, public funding is typically needed in the earliest stage of the innovation process: research and development.

This panel will focus on current challenges to entrepreneurial innovation financing, the chain of financing, equity gaps, and equity-based investments. The discussants will consider whether new types of investments such as international coin offerings (ICOs), crowdfunding, and angel investment can help bridge the equity gap in financing for innovative projects and under which conditions it is possible. They will also propose ways to bring more innovative ideas to market more quickly.

Panel 2

The role of science and technology parks in creating a vibrant ecosystem to expedite getting innovative ideas to market

Science parks have proven to be effective in increasing the productivity of companies and therefore increasing economic activity, which has led to growth in their numbers. Universities and research centres often form the core of science parks, acting as an anchor tenant. One of the principal ways that science parks, and universities in particular, can contribute to the knowledge creation process is by providing an environment where there is a strong emphasis on collaboration and innovation. This is aided by communal spaces and shared activities such as cafes, sports clubs and societies. These and similar services improve the work-life balance, increasing not only the site's attractiveness but also its potential for chance interactions and relationships between academia and industry, which can in turn lead to more formal collaboration.

Science parks can also complement a knowledge ecosystem, with universities generating knowledge that can then be transferred to or commercialised by companies in the science park. Science parks also frequently offer significant services and support to new companies that are formed based on this research. Universities, as anchor institutions, can shape the context and direction of science parks through their research.

This panel aims to identify the specific role that science and technology parks play in the creation of a vibrant ecosystem where more startups can bring innovative ideas to market more quickly.

Panel 3

Launching an angel investor network for each science and technology park: A mechanism for accelerating the commercialization of innovative ideas and technology transfer

In the past, it was inventions that were important for economic development. In the 21st century, however, it is no longer invention that counts, but innovation. In earlier times, entrepreneurial skills were not needed to get an invention to market, largely because it was a seller’s economy, where customers were ready to buy anything new. Times have changed, and so have the rules of the game. Today’s inventors need more than just a clever idea. They need a complex set of skills to move their innovative idea into the market and to ensure that it succeeds.

One important skill they need is the ability to convert invention to innovation. To do that, they need access to finance. Virtually all types of finance sources beyond simple bootstrapping — corporate ventures, angel investors, crowd-funding platforms, accelerators, VCs, banks, public grants, co-investment funds, business plan competitions, technology transfer offices, family offices, private equity investors and stock exchanges — can easily be tapped for smart investing if they are paired with the right qualified angel investors and if they look beyond local financial ecosystems.

This panel will examine innovative policies that can ease access to finance for startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs and innovators. It will also discuss the creation of science park angel networks (SPAN), ways to identify potential angel investors in their ecosystem, and ideas for organizing them into angel investor groups. The aim is to involve investors with the mission of the technology parks, to connect them with innovators and entrepreneurs in these science and technology parks, and to develop co-investment structures.

Panel 4

Developing a suitable intellectual property rights (IPR) strategy to achieve business plan targets: A roadmap for startups

Many startups secure patents to impress investors, knowing that investors will drop them unless they have a patent to protect their technology. A study in Switzerland shows that non-patenting startups receive an average funding of CHF 374,000, while patenting startups receive CHF 954,000 on average. This striking difference highlights a strong relationship between patenting activities and the amount of funding raised.

We all recognise that the most suitable IPR strategy for a startup depends on numerous criteria and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This panel aims to reveal common pitfalls that startups often encounter and provide tips for creating a good IPR strategy, including establishing and plotting priorities on an IPR road map and managing risks in startups that are actively involved in research and development.