» Programmatic Characteristics
VDOs across the country necessarily have adopted a wide array of services to support their region. As a result, there is no formula for which activities an organization must offer innovation companies to be classified as a VDO. The four programmatic characteristics are likely to the most challenging for existing TBED practices and may not all be o be not currently met in their entirety. If that is the case for your organization, these four should serve as aspirational goals to improve service delivery for the region.
Over the course of the next year, the RIAN community will recognize common or shared practices that constitute the foundation for determining best practices and lessons learned.
The programmatic characteristics of a good VDO are:
Focused on growing the venture rather than the innovation - VDOs concentrate on growing companies as opposed to being focused on moving technology to market (like most tech transfer offices) or being focused on the skills of the entrepreneur (like most SDBCs and entrepreneurship education programs) or being driven by rate of return or return on investment figures (like angel organizations, private accelerators, and venture capital funds).
Agnostic: Open to any source of new technology for commercialization - In addition to the company focus, VDOs maximize their value for the regional innovation economy by being agnostic on the sources of the technologies the companies are commercializing or exploiting for their success. This distinguishes VDOs from most university-based economic development initiatives or federal lab tech transfer offices, both of which may require the use of technology from the university or lab patent portfolio to use the services.
Service delivery adapts to the client's specific needs - VDOs offer an array of intensive services and assistance that is individually customized to the specific needs and success strategy of each client. This differentiates VDOs from rigid curriculum-based approaches to technology entrepreneurship (business plan competitions).
Service availability is not conditioned to onsite residency or membership - Much can be gained by clustering startups in incubators, accelerators and shared use facilities. But that severely limits the type of company that can benefit from the services. As a result, a good VDO doesn’t tie the availability of all services or tools to the occupancy of a particular facility or property, or the use of faculty/student researchers, etc.
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