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Jan 21, 2023 D'vorah Graeser

Take Your Tech Transfer from Good to Great

partner outreach - louder isn't always better

Your professors are bringing you great ideas that will change the world. And yet you can't get the attention of a company. Why aren't companies interested in your professors' great ideas? And why can't you find a partner to license these ideas?

When marketing your innovation to your potential new partner, ask yourself - why should they care? What are you bringing to the table? Your innovation is excellent - but is it the right fit for your partner? We’ll go through some questions to help you deliver the best answers.


Are you aiming for the right industry?

We’ve written a number of posts and reports on different industries and their potential for innovation partnership. Check out link 1 below for an example on the solar industry. What we have found is that some industries clearly welcome innovation and also have the money to pay for it. Solar is an example of just such an industry - money has been flowing in since 2020, but the industry’s innovation has been dropping since 2017. Companies in this industry would be expected to need access to innovation urgently - and a partnership with you could be the way forward.

Sign up to get our industry analysis reports - every week a new report, focused on a different industry, with tips on how to partner with companies in that industry.

Our analysis is supported by others who have reached the same conclusions - including the IEA (International Energy Agency), which published a report showing the continued flow of funds into solar startups (link 2 below). By contrast, wind is no longer seeing significant investment.

But let’s say that you find a great industry for your innovation - what’s next?


Does your innovation solve a problem that they feel is important?

Many innovations can be positioned to solve more than one problem. Framing the problem correctly can enable your innovation to shine in the eyes of a potential partner. Especially for larger companies, your contact at a potential partner may not know the technical area as well as you do. They may not immediately see the value of the problem that your innovation solves. Framing the problem in terms of their own needs and interests can help them to see that value - and why your innovation is the best solution. 

To do that, you need to be aware of those problems which the industry thinks are important. Again, coming back to the question of the right industry - you need to select an industry with a deeply felt need that your innovation solves. And you need to frame the problem that your innovation solves in terms of that industry’s understanding.

For example, for the solar industry, efficiency is a big problem - maximizing the amount of energy generated not only per panel, but also per installation. Various solutions have been proposed, but this problem has multiple root causes and so will require multiple solutions. Another upcoming challenge for the solar industry is e-waste - older panels that need to be replaced (see link 3 below). 

But let’s say you’ve found the right industry and have framed your innovation in terms of at least one significant industry-wide problem. There’s still one more hurdle to overcome.

find the right partner option

Is it at the right stage?

Companies often only want to partner for innovations that have been developed up to a certain point. Too early means that it’s too risky - they want proof that your innovation will work as described, without an excessive amount of investment. This problem is particularly acute for life science innovations, as they are much less predictable and often require much more investment to commercialize.

But another way to consider this problem is that you need to find the company for which your innovation is at the right stage. Some companies have greater R&D capacity, and a greater appetite for risk. Other companies want an innovation to be practically ready to sell as is, without a large amount of additional work. Matching your innovation’s development stage to the needs of your company partner will lead to success.

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.

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Click here to schedule a call with me, D’vorah Graeser, and I’ll answer all your questions.



Published by D'vorah Graeser January 21, 2023