At yet2.com, one company's mothballed technology can be another's moneymaking treasure.
Launched earlier this year, the Web site is intended to streamline the clunky process of researching, selling, buying, trading, and licensing technologies.
According to yet2.com, based in Cambridge, Mass., businesses spend more than $100 billion annually on research and development for technologies that, for one reason or another, they end up wanting to sell. Yet2.com's mission: turning that research into revenues.
The company provides businesses with a searchable online marketplace for their technologies. Successful deals often result from online connections made between buyers and sellers whose paths otherwise might never have crossed. In one early transaction, for instance, a home appliances company negotiated with an aerospace company.
Like any good matchmaker, yet2.com keeps interested parties anonymous until they agree to an introduction. Buyers and sellers then negotiate their own deal. Yet2.com's cut varies depending on the deal's bottom line but never exceeds $50,000. (Companies also pay an annual fee to use the site.)
The forum's first 200 registered users range from lone inventors to members of the Fortune 500, says Conrad Langenhagen, director of strategic planning. Small companies may benefit by finding research done by bigger companies, he says. And start-ups and soloists may be able to sell their own innovations online.
Thomas G. Field Jr., professor of law at Franklin Pierce Law Center, in Concord, N.H., however, says thatr electronic searches will never replace the traditional system of human brokers.
Will yet2.com work? The answer is, well, yet to come, Field says. But he calls the users' costs relatively low compared with soaring R&D costs. "Even if the technology sales' yield is one hit a year, what the hell, you've made back your investment," he says.