Traveling the road from basic research to marketable product takes a vehicle that can make many turns, twists, dips, and climbs, much of which takes place in the valley of death. That's the period during which a technology or product of research is too new to market; it shows commercial promise, but more research is needed to validate its apparent potential. Until that research is done, and the potential affirmed, traditional funders of commercial ventures—who generally want to know what the investment is going to produce financially in five years—are elusive.

How to navigate this valley of death was one of the topics addressed Feb. 16 during a symposium titled "Bridging the Gap from Scientific Discovery to Economic Growth," at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Professor emeritus Lewis M. Branscomb of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government chaired the session. Among...

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