As we have been getting ready for the “Stop Reacting, Start Proacting” webinar, we’ve been recalling some of our experiences over the years conducting market-based technology assessments. These experiences have taught us the importance of carefully considering the market’s view of a technology before launching into marketing.
For example, Fuentek’s rapid screening of a polishing technique for optics showed potential for use in mirrors, lenses, and molds for optical components. Based on the screening, we ranked the technology’s commercialization potential as medium-high, and the client agreed it was worth moving on to the next step: a market-based technology assessment.
When we explored the market interest in the technology, we focused on molds for making contact lenses as a primary commercial application. But in speaking with industry experts, we learned that contact lens mold manufacturers were not dissatisfied with the current state of the art. Furthermore, any new approach would need to deliver a significant cost savings to offset the sunk costs invested in the current infrastructure. Our client’s technology simply did not reach that bar.
This is not to say that the screening failed. It’s important to remember that the goal of the rapid screening is to quickly eliminate those innovations that have so little market fit that it makes more sense to give priority to others that have higher potential. For technologies that look attractive at the end of the screening stage, a market-based assessment helps you fully understand their potential for licensing (or other) success by answering two important questions:
- Is the market ready for this innovation? and
- Is the innovation ready for the market?
If the answer to both of these questions is “yes,” then marketing is warranted. To be clear, there are still more questions to answer before you start marketing, so you can scope the campaign appropriately. For example, is the market broad with lots of players or is it small with just one or two players?
If the answer to either major question above is “no,” then an investment in marketing is highly unlikely to result in a license. In these cases, it’s best to allocate your resources elsewhere.
Because let’s face it: no tech transfer office’s resources are infinite. You have to choose where to allocate your time and funds. The decisions about how to prioritize the technologies in the portfolio are, at least in part, dictated by how much you have available to spend as well as the time you have available to support the marketing effort. So if you are proactive in managing your intellectual property, you can get the most — and best — deals without wasting valuable resources trying to market a technology that in the end isn’t going to result in a license or partnership.
Fuentek has more than 15 years of experience in helping university, government, and corporate clients with technology evaluation and marketing for technology transfer. Contact us today to discuss how we can help your organization get more and better deals using our proven methodology.