Whether you want to improve your own business or introduce a new product or service line, technology/innovation is usually a major part of the solution. With all of the R&D at universities and government labs, it’s not always necessary to start from scratch to create that new solution or improvement. In fact, it’s best to always start by looking outside your company using open innovation—or better yet, Symbiotic Innovation—tactics.
A large percentage of university and government technologies have niche applications. So it’s a treat to have an innovation with broad market potential. So how do you identify the potential licensees? And which do you contact first? Today’s Marketing Mondays post helps you answer those questions.
Today, we’re releasing a new webcast that discusses how to develop a value chain to identify whom to contact to get the best market feedback on the technology. The value chain charts the sequence of companies (or collaborating players) that take a product from raw material to final product or service to satisfy market demand. It maps the categories of players within a segment of an industry, providing context about the supplier-customer relationships. It not only outlines the primary players in an industry but also helps you think through how the technology will deliver added value to this industry.
Lots of best practices for technology transfer offices (TTOs) also apply to startups. To leverage that insight, I recently spoke with entrepreneurs in New Hampshire about how to get great feedback from prospective customers when getting a startup off the ground, offering a new product (or service), or breaking into a new market. Similarly, in the tech transfer world, licensing success can be optimized by obtaining robust and comprehensive market feedback through expert interviews. This feedback will inform your strategy for approaching the market as you ramp up to marketing a technology for licensing. For example,…
Gathering and analyzing market data may be at the heart of developing the technology transfer strategy, but its value is not limited to the go/no-go decision and planning how to move forward. There are some less obvious but extremely impactful ways that market data can be a useful tool for a tech transfer office (TTO). Here are four projects I’ve worked on recently that illustrate some of the powerful ways your TTO can make use of market data.
In her recent Wall Street Journal article “Universities Push Harder Into Realm of Startups,” reporter Ruth Simon observed that “universities are stepping up efforts to create ‘spinouts,’ or business startups born from some of the cutting-edge research of their students or faculty. Some schools are creating funds that help cover startup costs.” She mentions several schools’ efforts to support their spinout/startup companies, including the University of Minnesota’s Discovery Capital Investment Program, the University of Wisconsin’s Ideadvance Seed Fund, and the University of California’s independent UC Ventures. Yet another funding trend is occurring that focuses on an earlier segment of the commercialization pipeline, seeking to address what Simon rightly observed as an obstacle to university spinouts: “Technologies emerging from research labs are often embryonic.” This trend, known as translational funding, is more and more in the news.
Understanding how prospects perceive value will help you gauge their true interest in a potential licensing deal. Just because you’ve designed a cool widget doesn’t mean somebody out there is willing to invest in commercializing it. Potential licensees will be interested only if the technology delivers meaningful value for their company. For the best results, licensing managers should be able to identify the key factors that influence prospects’ decision-making processes — a good bit of which is already on hand if a market-based assessment of the technology was conducted. There’s no substitute for being prepared as you head into negotiations. I explain further in our new “Why Prepare for Licensing Negotiations” webcast, which also includes tips for the kind of research you should conduct in advance. (The webcast is free — all you have to do is register.)
This week finds me online discussing a range of topics that may be of interest to our readers. On Tuesday it’s “Achieving Brilliant White Light with Amber LEDs” for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. On Thursday it’s “Using Competitive Technical Intelligence (CTI) Techniques to Assess University Patents” for Tech Transfer Central.
External Advisory Boards: A Short-Term Tool for Tech Transfer (or “Not Mr. Right, but Mr. Right Now”)
I was recently asked for my insights about technology transfer office (TTO) use of external advisory boards or committees. Such boards have been frequently cited in reports and the press as a useful tool — or even a required element — for improved tech transfer operations. The thinking is that external boards provide a means to obtain objective industry/market opinions about new technologies and/or to tap into technical expertise not available within the TTO. I am all in favor of…
We’ve blogged often about how planning for technology marketing helps TTOs be more proactive and efficient in selecting innovations to market. If your TTO is like most, you have more active marketing projects than you have the resources to handle. Therefore, prioritizing (and reprioritizing) your projects is the key to developing a strategic and agile marketing process that will provide long-term value. In today’s Stories from the Field post, I share details of how to apply what we’ve learned through years of identifying high-priority projects.