A clear plan for progressing your technology through it’s post-research development and, most crucially, making the transition from grant support through to self-sustaining commercial technology will make it more likely that your technology will reach the end of the development process.
In order to develop any new technology to completion it is important to ensure that the right resources are available in the right place at the right time. The principal source of resources will be raised through new investment. As the level of development gets higher the level of state support will decline and new investment will need to come from the private sector. The curiosity driven nature of academia means that this environment is often not conducive to the downstream development of technologies. As a result there will likely come a time when technologies need to leave the labs where they originated and a transition to a business environment.
While the final form of any technology will be hard if not impossible to anticipate at the stage of writing an EPSRC proposal, decisions made during the project can help or hinder the downstream development of the technology. Understanding potential future business models for the technology will help you make the right decisions. An effective exploitation strategy will draw upon many of the other topics described in this toolkit: The number and distribution of potential end users will influence the potential target market, which will in turn influence which regulators might be targeted, which will determine what data and testing regime is required. Similarly, the nature of your technology will influence what remuneration/reimbursement model is best for your technology and that will have implications for how best to protect your intellectual property. Certain disease foci will open up different funding options from disease focused funders.
Attempting to develop a coherent plan that brings together all of these elements is a huge challenge. There is no expectation that you will have a comprehensive plan, even by the end of your project, but you should have begun to explore this and particularly to consider how this might influence decisions made towards the end of your project. You should consider building in sufficient flexibility at the end of your project to consider the options for your technology moving forwards and the expertise you will require to make good choices at this point.
Questions to Consider
- What is the target market for your technology?
- What are the regulatory and IP implications?
- Who will take forward the technology once it leaves the lab?
- What is the most appropriate development environment for your technology?
- Who is going to buy your technology? How soon are they going to buy it?
- What business models might work in commercialising your technology?
Resources to Request
As part of your proposal you should consider requesting resources to:
- Undertake business or commercial training relevant to your technology.
- Take additional time during your project to consider and explore the options for its future development. This could include a secondment or discipline hop.
- Support to develop a commercialisation plan.
- NIHR i4i Accelerator Programme: A tailored training programme of business skills for researchers looking to increase their chances of successful applications for translational funding.