Scientific breakthroughs can generate new markets characterized by comprehensive uncertainty throughout the value creation process. We analyze different approaches to uncertainty resolution in the nascent cell therapy industry to develop a process model of strategy evolution in new technology ventures. Our theoretical model connects comprehensive uncertainty, strategic dynamism, and heterogeneous feedback to key transitions in the conversion of scientific breakthroughs into commercial products. We observe that, due to heterogeneous feedback, over time strategic dynamism can augment, rather than mitigate, the uncertainty faced by new firms in nascent markets. We discuss implications for technology ventures’ resource accumulation, growth, and survival.
Scientific breakthroughs present major value creation opportunities. For example, the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system—elected Science’s 2015 Breakthrough of the Year for its ability to precisely delete, repair or replace genes—suggests many potentially valuable applications across human health and agriculture. However, converting scientific breakthroughs into valuable technological applications and successfully embodying such technologies in commercial products poses significant challenges. Our novel results and theoretical insights can help new firms that lack pre-defined capabilities and market positions and and are concerned with the conditions under which an innovation should be self-commercialized rather than brought to market in cooperation with partners.