"You can start out with a great idea, but there is so much that lies between that and having it be really commercialized," Reardon, a chemical engineering professor at Colorado State University, said.
That is why CSU Ventures was born. Scientists or researchers with "great ideas" are now being paired with business development experts to keep them from getting stuck in the lab.
"I could've ended up in the same place myself," Reardon said. "We had worked on this idea for a while. It seemed like we had something interesting, but frankly, my expertise is in developing the technology and not in really knowing what to do after that."
Reardon launched OptiEnz Sensors. It is a device which uses enzymes and fiber-optic cables to detect contaminants in ground water by measuring the change in light given off by certain chemical reactions.
Tim Reeser is an entrepreneur who has been successful in launching several companies on his own. Now he works with CSU Ventures to get ideas like Reardon's off the ground.
"In general, the skill sets required to be a deep level scientists are different than the skill sets required to take a company to a commercial entity and have success with it," Reeser said.
Among his successes is Abound Solar. The Longmont-based company manufactures a unique kind of solar panel. It started out as a project another CSU professor. Saturday, President Barack Obama announced a $400 million federal loan guarantee so Abound Solar can expand.
Reeser says Abound is a prime example of what can happen when great ideas within CSU are handled properly.
"We're very excited and proud of what happened and it also sets the stage that we can do this again," Reeser said. "That's really our goal is to do a lot more of them and to do them a lot faster."
Reeser says CSU Ventures is working with six start-up companies right now. In addition to OptiEnz Sensors, the university is developing products in the fields of cancer research and controlling infectious disease.
"How do we remove the obstacles? How do we make it easier to move these out and make global impact?" Reeser said.
Reardon hopes one day his company can be as successful as Abound Solar. He predicts within a year, his product will be ready for commercial distribution with the help of CSU.
"I've been here for 20 years and this is really a new phase for the university," Reardon said.
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