Innovation Delaware Q&A: Dora Cheatham of Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance

The Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance (DESCA) was formed in 2010 to foster long-term innovation among key stakeholders in the public and private sectors in Delaware and its nearby regions. The alliance accomplishes its goal by working with thought leaders in industry, government and academia to link resources in ways that can both optimize funding for R&D and translate the benefits of new and sustainable discoveries in chemistry into commercial opportunities. DESCA’s board is composed of leaders representing large and small Delaware-based chemistry companies and strategic marking consultants.

We talked with DSCA spokesperson Dora Cheatham:

What are some specific areas where DESCA provides guidance to small startup companies?

While the innovators may have great ideas for new technologies and processes, they often need help
in such areas as protection of their intellectual properties and networking with people who can give them specific business advice and those who can help them put togethera long-range, viable business plan. We can help with that.

Does DESCA also stage developmental events and programs?

Yes we do. One of the most successful is our two-day, free workshop called TechConnect — part of our I2I (“Innovation to Invoice”) program — which helps technology startups understand and develop
go-to-market strategies, especially for applications to which they have given little or no consideration.

What are some of the obstacles or roadblocks that all startups have?

Well, the biggest is usually cash and cash flow. There’s a huge amount of capital needed to sustain a company while it’s trying to develop its groundbreaking innovation. One of the things we consider in the TechConnect workshops: Besides your big, innovative idea, is there a short-term application you can develop in the meantime that can generate cash flow?

What, then, is the critical first step?

It helps very much if the innovators can develop a short-term strategy to improve their value proposition and de-risk their technology, something they can take to investors that establishes credibility and shows they are in it for the long haul.

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