How do you fund a bunch of researchers, given that little of their work will be readily marketable and the real breakthroughs will often benefit your competitors more than yourself?

Through the years, different funding models have come and gone. At the end of the 19th century there was what I'll call the Marconi model. Marconi was an amateur tinkerer when he invented radio. He went on to become a legendary entrepreneur, creating a number of companies to implement his invention. Benz, Birdseye, Sikorsky...a lot of innovators started companies on the Marconi model. Sadly, it doesn't work very well today. Amateurs have been outclassed, and teams have mostly replaced individuals.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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