Venture capitalist Brenda Gavin offers simple advice to life science inventors seeking funding for new projects: Be clear, brief, and persistent. "You've got to call more than once," Gavin, president of SR One, a GlaxoSmithKline venture fund, exhorted participants at a venture forum sponsored by Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in October. Gavin said she gets about 25 calls a day. "Don't spend the voice mail talking, and if I have to play my voice mail 15 times to get your message, I'm ticked."

An annoyed venture capitalist may not open the company's coffers to a hopeful inventor, and though many scientists bristle at the idea of perfecting a marketing message, a half dozen carefully chosen words can determine whether a researcher's dream evolves into a product that helps people or dissolves into a delusion.1 "The transition from discovery process to development process is sometimes a wasteland," says Christopher Yochim...

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