Despite many years of substantial government research funding, advanced bio-energy technologies in China have seen limited commercial application. Chinese policy makers are increasingly critical of academic organizations for neglecting their role in the transfer of scientific results into industrial applications. We interviewed a selection of Chinese research groups working on bio-energy technologies, and asked them to describe their efforts at commercialization. We found that they focus their research on technological pathways with commercial potential, they patent and attempt to license their technologies, they are highly involved in large scale demonstration plants, and have created a number of new firms. Industry and government may have unrealistic expectations on the maturity and scale of technologies that academia can develop, however. These findings contrast with many earlier analyses of early commercialization stages of novel technologies, which have commonly identified lacking academic entrepreneurship as a root cause in stalling development.