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Innovations that span more than one industry discipline or technology domain often face commercialization challenges — in part because of a dearth of venture capitalists with the background to evaluate them. So argues Silicon Valley strategist (and MIT alumna) Sramana Mitra in a recent Forbes.com column about obstacles to cross-disciplinary innovation. Mitra calls such cross-disiplinary business models “cusp businesses.”
One example Mitra cites: designing semiconductor chips for greater ease of manufacturing. She writes:
Yes, you do find some technologists who grasp the cusp. But then you also need business people and investors to play their parts for an innovation to successfully make it to the market.
But many more entrepreneurs and venture capitalists get excited about Web 2.0 than about the cusp of design and manufacturing of semiconductors. Why? Because these two fields are extremely complex, requiring a level of technical depth, intellectual horsepower, business savvy and appetite for risk that is rare in today’s technology industry.
On the plus side, Mitra quotes a cross-disciplinary entrepreneur who points out one benefit of his business: His model is hard for big companies to imitate.