Shane contends that the capital venture investments can and should be an important part of the overarching strategy for any business, regardless of size. And there are plenty of opportunities, he said, for small and mid-sized companies to join the game, build partnerships with start-ups and collaborate on projects, especially at the university level.
The caveat is knowing the level of risk in each move and having a clear definition of what successful investing generates.
If small- and mid-size businesses do that, and they are comfortable with whatever outcome may occur, they actually may have an advantage with their agility.
"The problem with a giant Fortune 100 company is the levels of hierarchy you have to go through to get a deal approved," Shane said. "At a small enterprise, the start-up pitches the boss to say, 'Hey I would like to try a pilot with you.' The boss of the small- to medium-sized enterprise goes 'Yeah. That could possibly help us. Sure. Do the pilot. Talk to these two people, and we'll do the pilot with you.' Those are the (valuable) mechanisms that I see at the small- and medium-sized enterprises."
One way to look at it, Shane said, is through the idea that you are investing in your talent. Especially in instances where your research and development engineers can collaborate with start-ups or universities. In doing so, they gain insights and understanding they otherwise would not have had.
And in the case of university partnerships, the collaboration could go a very long way in shaping the next generation of young talent in your ranks.
"At the worst. Even if the projects that you work on … (don't) pan out, there is someone to hire," Shane said. "There are students who worked on that project and, when they graduate, you can get talent."