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Jun 10, 2022 D'vorah Graeser

Commercializing Innovation: Markets, Partners and Protection


Innovation is becoming increasingly necessary in our new disrupted world. But innovation without commercialization doesn’t lead to business success, whether for a startup, large corporation, or tech transfer of academic research to a partner. This post focuses on innovation that is to be commercialized through a partnership with an external entity, rather than innovation that is developed and brought to market by a single company. 

Let’s start with markets. Understanding the market that the innovation may serve is crucial for business success. However, innovation may lead to a new and unexplored market, and even unexpected product applications in new markets. Professor Joe Tidd, professor in the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit of the University of Sussex, noted that if innovation is limited to “targeted projects”, then a company “may miss out on lucky ‘accidents’ which open up new possibilities”  (link 1 below). 

Preselecting a market and then requiring all innovation to fit that market may miss those “lucky accidents”. Furthermore, many innovations are useful for more than one market. Invention extensions are a great way to bring a particular innovation to multiple, even wildly different, markets. One example that we’ve written about is the application of industrial robots to amusement park rides (link 2 below). Check out the link below to find out more!

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Now find the best partner. For partner-based innovation commercialization, clearly finding a great partner is the key. But finding a great partner means first analyzing the specific market for the technology. Analyzing multiple markets is even better! You want to know the market size of course, but we also recommend asking the following questions:

One: Is the market growing? Look for the estimated future CAGR (compound annual growth rate). If it’s low, market participants may not have cash to pay for innovation commercialization.

Two: What is the general attitude of market participants toward innovation?

Three: For the fastest growing and/or most profitable companies in that market - do they in-license innovations and/or partner with other companies and/or universities? Or are they strictly relying on in-house innovations?

KISSPlatform can help you answer these questions. Want to know more? Sign up for a call with me, D’vorah Graeser, and I’ll show you how we can help you analyze your market and find the right partner.

But don’t forget protection! You may wonder why I put this last. I did that deliberately. If you have an innovation and you want to partner for commercialization, then I strongly recommend understanding the commercial aspects first - before you seek protection. For example, for patents, understanding the market is important. Different patent applications can be written to protect the same technology, depending on the specific markets that are chosen. 

Remember the application of industrial robots to amusement park rides? If the original patent on the industrial robot was only written for factories and not rides, it might not cover this new market application of the technology. Broadening your consideration of all of the different markets can result in a stronger patent. 

Other types of IP (intellectual property) protection are also possible, depending on the innovation - including copyright, database and/or collections of data, design patents and more. Some types of protection may be registered with the government, while others may involve carefully written licensing agreements. We’ll be discussing these possibilities in our next blog post.

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Published by D'vorah Graeser June 10, 2022