Planning for Ripe Carbon Fruit: Material Innovation Lifecycles as a Scouting Tool
There is rising pressure on developers to bring novel materials to market quickly and efficiently. What’s more, frequently these efforts occur in a pressure cooker atmosphere of breathless media attention promising imminent disruptive innovation, with shareholders and investors demanding developers achieve quarterly growth metrics. Yet most materials fail to meet the hype, especially in the unrealistic timeline expectations of their financiers. In looking for the next big thing, technology scouts and venture capitalists alike often find that “big” requires more patience than their metrics allow. Analyzing the commercialization histories of a broad range of materials, we find that incubation time from invention to meaningful revenue can range from as little as seven to more than 40 years. While these timelines might not appear to line up with investment objectives or attractive rates of return, in fact the relative predictability can be used as a strategic tool. This talk will assess advanced carbon materials in the current pipeline – including carbon fiber, carbon nanotubes, and graphene – so executives in early-stage technology scouting, new business development, and corporate venturing can plan for and target advanced materials for near and long term impact.