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Jessica Chesher

Managing Editor

Innovation eReview
NYS Events: Pre-seed Workshops

A great tool for technology commercialization in New York State is the Pre-seed Workshop. Organized in 2004 by Mark Wilson and Judy Albers, the workshops have become an annual event in many economic development regions across NYS. The two-day workshops  provide innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts and TTO’s (referred to collectively as “idea champions”) with a roadmap to figure out whether their idea is commercially viable, or what they need to know to determine if their idea is commercially viable. It provides expert legal, technical, financial and market information to assist with the important decision about whether it makes sense to invest further time, effort and money to commercialize an idea. 
Technology innovation is often touted as a mechanism for economic development, and New York State and the federal government have made huge investments into research with this goal in mind. However, the investment in research does not pay off with new inventions or innovation alone. There is a great deal of research and energy investment to be completed between the invention and a marketable product or service, as all inventions, whether they are patented or not, are not commercially viable. 

Pre-seed Workshops are a mechanism to help determine which early stage ideas are good bets for commercialization, and how to plan the process to commercialize. Idea champions become familiar with the market research, patenting issues and research areas they need to pursue to make a critical decision about whether and how to proceed with a commercialization strategy for the new idea, invention or innovation. 

Pre-seed Workshops are hosted and coordinated by a variety of organizations throughout the State of New York. They channel the enthusiasm of the local entrepreneurial, technical, marketing, financial and legal communities and provide idea champions with feedback regarding the strengths of the idea and what the idea lacks in order to make a final up or down decision about continuing efforts with the project. Equally important, the workshop provides referrals to a network of resources that the project needs. 

The Pre-seed Workshops host a number of ideas at a time. In order to participate, an application is completed and sent to the sponsoring organization which completes a vetting process for to insure the workshop’s value is suited to the idea. Workshops are geared to ideas based in hard science and technology at very early stages. Referrals often come from technology transfer offices at Universities. 

A number of Workshops are scheduled in seven economic development regions for 2013. Since 2004, there have been over 50 workshops, with 300 ideas analyzed and nearly 2000 participants. In addition to providing objective feedback to idea champions, the process orients groups of professionals in the integrated approach to a commercialization enterprise that is necessary for success. 

The Pre-seed Workshop website provides information about the process including white papers on the program, its metrics and information about alumni companies. If you have or are working with a new idea, you'll be well-served to become familiar with pre-seed workshops.

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