I have been involved in breakthrough science and technology, both as a scientist and as an investor in science-based start-up companies.
So, what is really great, innovative science, where does it come from, and how do you recognise and value it?
I have done some informal work on these topics, and would like to collect some more examples of radical changes in how science is done, and how it is exploited.
An entrepreneur is someone who leads the way in an endeavour - the trader/explorer, the inventor of a new business, the person who finds completely new opportunities and goes out on a limb to exploit them. Conventionally the endevour was commercial, contrasting the stay-at-home shopkeeper with the entrepreneur who opens new markets, often in person, with cutlass in hand. The first business angel to dare to invest in biotechnology was an entrepreneur. The 51st was not - he (or she) was just someone with lots of money.
But science also has its stay-at-homes and its entrepreneurs, and the nature of true entrepreneurship is very similar in both fields.
This has little to do with making stacks of money, or being made Professor:- it is easier to make stacks of money by becoming a banker, easier to make Professor by working the University political system. It is about seeing opportunites that no-one else can see, and taking risks that no-one else thinks are worth it, or that they even recognise are there.
This presentation was given at Imperial College on this topic - what is a entrepreneur? (It is well annotated, unlike many of my presentations.) I discuss that it takes, illustrated with reference to four radically different scientific entrepreneurs - Roger Bacon, Richard Feynman, Leroy Hood and Isaac Asimov. The common theme? You have to read the presentation for that!