||Environmental entrepreneurship as a field is moving from the background of entrepreneurship
to the foreground, as larger and larger environmental problems are seen as opportunities
for entrepreneurial activity. However, environmental technologies emerging from laboratories
have longer research periods, may take longer to produce products, and may not fit
into the traditional startup pathways that venture capital (VC) firms look for out
Building upon existing literature, a framework for analysis and a path towards the
marketplace were created using Dr. Jesko von Windheim’s Lab-to-Market Framework (von
Windheim & Myers, 2014) and Four Forces Analysis paper (von Windheim & Doyle, 2013).
Six environmental entrepreneurial opportunities were selected from Duke and affiliates:
macroalgae biomass harvesting, lighthouse rentals, a billfish lure invisible to sea
turtles, mammalian cell lifespan extension, increased drought resistance in flowering
plants, and Zylon – a method for producing renewable nylon. These opportunities were
analyzed with a modified opportunity analysis in line with the framework developed,
and three were selected for further investigation.
The three opportunities selected (Zylon, the billfish lure invisible to sea turtles,
and increased drought resistance in flowering plants) were further analyzed beyond
the initial opportunity analysis. Zylon was chosen as the best candidate for development
as a start-up, and a four forces analysis performed to select the best method for
A business case is presented for Zylon, based on work done in the Entrepreneurial
Experience course and materials created for the Duke Start-Up Challenge.
Recommendations for next steps for Zylon are provided based on these experiences and
advice from judges, industry consultants, and advisors: demonstrate the improved economics
of Zylon; seek out niche markets where green nylon will be prized; and move Zylon
out of the university. For more information please contact: email@example.com