Category Archives: Commons Technology

How do you fund cutting edge commons technology?

The Caltrope project is really mesmerizing (no surprise, since it’s the brainchild of a Hungarian conceptual installation artist). Let’s jump ahead and assume we could figure out how to produce it cheaply and in volume. To pay for it we move into the world of long term project finance, which I know nothing about. What’s the net present value of the future cash flows enabled by filling in the soil at the edge of a fragile and eroding delta like that of the Mississippi? What are the upstream benefits?

And then how do you sell bleeding edge promising technology, assuming you found enlightened economic development and conservation players who would see its value and the need for its deployment with an agile need for speed and with an entrepreneurial fail-forward attitude, since you are doing alpha tests of technology trying to get to a product that works in a reasonable amount of time? They would need to know they need to fund product development.

It would take someone with a lot of patience to do that, to keep explaining the concept, as you move up the desks from your initial entry into an agency. I’ve done that several times, but it can take, in my case, up to 18 months to get what I wanted even when the value for participating was totally clear.

I don’t have the patience for that today. And I was not as good as it as someone with a more patient temperament would be, someone who can be happy with slogging upward and getting incremental steps forward. That’s a great thing to do. I’ve done it, but am too old and impatient for larger long term change to tie myself down to that kind of process now. But if someone stepped up to do it, to productize Caltrope, I would help.