Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Sad Day for Progress

Today, a wonderful client of ours, PolyFuel, Inc., announced that it is ceasing operations. This is a refrain we have all heard too often these days and it is certainly tough on the people involved with the company. We are thinking of them.

But, with this news, there is a greater concern to be focused on as well: PolyFuel has been a leader in developing important next generation fuel cell technology. With this shut down, as a result of the poor economy, the research and development that has happened to date will just go fallow.

This is a shocking outcome. While PolyFuel had forces working against it and it didn't get to commercialization soon enough to survive, the most distressing thing is that all of the work it has done will essentially be lost. And we are not talking about a company in the entertainment space or other market where progress may mean more fun but . . .

And, sadly, PolyFuel is not the only company with truly meaningful development that is being shut down as a result of the economy. I have spoken with a number of my friends who invest in life science venture capital and they each have stories to tell about important companies on the road to commercializing life-saving treatments that have had to shut down. This is bad.

I don't really know the solution to this tremendous problem. But it seems somehow we need to find a way to support companies that are just at the wrong stage of the cycle during this economic downturn.

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Blogger pauljbuttivant said...

indeed we do need to do something to support important businesses that could effectively change the way we all live. Its not all about the downturn in the economy, there are substantial funds in the markets, but sadly those controlling the markets (bankers & politicians) have and remain far too greedy to release capital which is starving businesses on the verge or at the early stages of development. R&D is a particularly hard hit section of the business community, as are buisinesses such as I am trying to start-up (renewable energy). If a business can't generate significant and virtually immediate returns, these days they have very little chance of either emerging or surviving. Perhaps VC's and PE firms all over the world should perhaps start the trend of investing in ventures that will yield returns but not immediately and shame the banks,I for one would welcome that?

4:20 PM  

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