June 17, 2022

How to move from R&D to the Mainstream

The future: lots of new ideas, lots of creative companies, limited resources, and attention.

In short:

  1. AI will greatly increase the discovery of technological breakthrough
  2. Companies need to embed these innovations in commercial products to scale them
  3. These companies need to play by the rule of the modern attention economy

Antibiotics are prohibitively time-consuming and expensive to produce, and yet, relatively cheap and used sparingly.

The resulting lack of financial incentives for companies has greatly reduced the rate of their development.

Which makes the discovery of Halicin particularly interesting.

In 2019, MIT researchers announced the identification of a new molecule able to be used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. But more than the compound itself, it is the way it was discovered that gathered the most attention.

Researchers used machine-learning computer models trained to analyse the molecular structures of a large number of compounds and correlate them with antibiotic properties.

This kind of achievement makes artificial intelligence not just a promising general purpose technology (GPT) bound to increase the efficiency of the existing economy, but also a general purpose method of invention (IMI).

According to economic historian Nicholas Crafts, the transformative effect of what we call industrial revolutions could be mainly attributed to the innovations they bring to the current methods of inventions.

The main legacy of the second industrial revolution (late 19th - early 20th centuries) is not only the deployment of electrical technology and infrastructure, but also the development of applied science and the innovation of the industrial research and development (R&D) laboratories which made it possible and yielded important long term productivity gain for the economy.

Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory

With some investment, AI will certainly optimise the allocation of ressources, industrial processes and supply chains. It will also - and perhaps more importantly - greatly increase our ability to generate new ideas and technological breakthrough in all domains.1

But this is not enough. Innovation still needs to be embedded in commercial products and distributed at scale. Helping (European, and especially French) companies bring new ideas from R&D to the mainstream is what Tonal is about.

The private actors harnessing cutting-edge technology need to attract smart capital, highly qualified workers and sophisticated clients, by applying the best practices of software and consumer companies and playing by the rules of the attention economy.

After all, this is how the most famous hard tech founder in the world is able to raise money so fast and attract such a devoted pool of talents and customers.