Trilogy Tidings
April 2016
in this issue
     What's the commercial purpose of research and development? It's to convert imagination, scientific discipline, innovation, and improvement into MONEY. Simple as that. And, improving the effectiveness of R&D is obviously commercially important.
     There are proven ways to make your R&D efforts count for more. Revealing three of those means is my mission this month. All three echo a common theme: Pay attention to demand, early and often.


Optimizing Technology Transfer                  
     One of the most important sources of commercialization success is industry licensing of the intellectual property developed from R&D conducted by academics. In my experience this tech transfer process is often carried out in fits and starts, and its effectiveness is ripe for improvement.
     I delivered a webinar last month dealing with shifting a tech transfer office from a technology-driven to a needs-driven model. The audience consisted of about 20 technology transfer offices.
     I called for some radical shifts in approach. Despite the hard work and challenges involved, my message seemed to be well received. You can check out my narrated video or my annotated slide deck.
     If you just can't spare those 35 or 5 minutes to get inside my head, maybe you can settle for my key takeaway messages:
     Optimize tech transfer success by ...
  1.   employing both PUSH and PULL TTO strategies
  2.   keeping market realities and user needs front and center always
  3.   thinking and acting long term.
     Should you be curious about my PUSH and PULL strategies, you will just have to invest more time.
     The essential point is that R&D effectiveness and tech transfer outcomes can be improved by consistently accounting for the influences of user needs and market preferences throughout the R&D and commercialization processes.
Rapid Prototyping                  
     There's a new book entitled "Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days" by three design partners at Google Ventures. Several years ago, one of those partners developed sprint, a process that allows you to answer critical questions through design, prototyping and testing ideas with customers.
     A five-day process? Really? That seems awfully aggressive, especially in my world of medical products. But that's not really the point. Whether it's five days or five weeks (probably not five months), I think this sprint notion deserves your consideration. It may be feasible, and it may offer some real advantages.
     On the fourth day of this presumed five-day process you hammer out a prototype suitable for testing with prospective customers on the fifth day. An excerpt from the book talks about this rapid prototyping process in a post entitled "The Prototype Mindset". You aim to devise a prototype that is just good enough for customers to accept it as real, without investing too much time building that prototype. (Does 3D printing come to mind?)
     Perhaps the biggest problem with the usual prototyping process is that the longer you spend working on something, whether it's a prototype or a real product--the more attached you'll become, and the less likely you'll be to take negative test results to heart. After one day, you're receptive to feedback. After three months, you're committed.
     I think this sprint approach is a fascinating notion, and I see little downside to trying it out in your own world. That book just might be worth a read.
Profit-Inspired Research                   
     Basic research is under attack in the US. Government funding of such basic research endeavors appears to be at risk, while industry-funded R&D seems to be gaining in favor among investors. The reasons are pretty clear: financial risk and time-to-market.
Profitable Research
     Pranjal Thapliyal offered a thoughtful post entitled "Is it Time for Basic Research to Adopt a Profit Model?".  He argues persuasively for an investment mix that favors more research directed at addressing demonstrated societal needs at the expense of basic research aimed at knowledge accumulation. This is surely a controversial notion, but I think it deserves attention in our resource-constrained reality.
What does Trilogy do? 
     Trilogy Associates facilitates business growth and renewal through commercialization of new products, providing the following services:
  • Development and critique of business strategies and plans
  • Characterization of market drivers and adoption dynamics
  • Identification and evaluation of fitting technologies
  • Surveillance of competitors and emerging threats
  • Market-testing of development-stage product concepts
  • Assessment of clinical value and comparative economics
  • Support for partnering, acquisition and divestiture initiatives
  • Quick-turnaround M&A due diligence
  • Business and technical writing/publishing

     Inquiries to establish whether and how we might support your business initiatives are always welcome.  Contact us.

Resources from our Archives 
     Check out our Reading Room to view my published articles, presentations and white papers on a variety of topics.
     And, you can examine an archive of my prior newsletters (since February 2007).
Contact Information
Joseph J. Kalinowski, Principal