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New ally for 'not.comers'

New ally for 'not.comers'

Cambridge, MA-Engineers with cutting-edge business ideas could get a helping hand from a new program established by Arthur D. Little, the 114-year-old technology incubator.

Called SciRox, the new venture offers technical assistance and financial backing to help entrepreneurs get emerging technologies to market.

"The focus is on the hard sciences and technology-not Internet startups," explains ADL's David Sossen, managing director for SciRox. "Nor are we interested in 'the next great idea' for Linux applications or other software developments."

Instead, SciRox is searching in particular for ideas that match ADL's proven track record in such fields as alternative energy, biotechnology, electronics, and medical devices.

Among other criteria that Sossen is looking for:

  • The technology should have the potential to give a distinct competitive edge to customers.

  • The individual who submits the proposal must have a strong personal commitment to the project, working alongside ADL experts to bring the idea to commercialization.

  • A Northeast location is a plus, so that program participants can take full advantage of ADL's technical labs and prototype facilities, as well as its management and legal services.

Sossen notes that one successful proposal, called 90North, is already manufacturing heading sensors for military and commercial customers. A typical application involves towed sonar arrays for detecting and tracking submerged objects.

Another hot area: fuel cell technology, amid renewed worries over high prices and energy shortages. ADL helped launch Nuvera, which makes fuel cells for mobile and stationary applications.

The program's resources have recently expanded through a new joint venture with Navigator Technology Ventures, a subsidiary of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratories. This adds more financial backing and more technical expertise in electromechanical systems.

"The climate for innovation is as good as it has ever been," says Sossen. "There is a tremendous amount of creative energy at work-and no shortage of problems to be solved."

For more information, write: David Sossen, SciRox, Arthur D. Little, Acorn Park, Cambridge, MA 02140.

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