Bench to Market
BENCH TO MARKET

Some thoughts from an (interested) observer:

#1    having the innovator/researcher on board in the commercialization process would be ideal. He/she understands the tech best and will have a better idea of what is possible and critically the inputs (resources, expertise) required to make it a success

#2    evidence based - claims are great but will not give a sense of the total (commercial) opportunity. The more data you have the better

#3    prototype or demonstrate it - show that it works not only at lab scale but also at a larger scale (resource permitting) – the idea is to give a taste of what is possible, that it will indeed do what it is asked to do

#4    think overall design – how it will look like, how it will be used, user interface, aesthetics (where relevant), an operational viewpoint. Basically, think beyond the science

#5    the science may be great but you will need communicate how it works to a wider audience, including lay persons. Know that here in Malaysia we do not have as many investors who can also understand the science stuff well. Investors need to understand what they invest in

#6    engage industry/private sector as early as possible to understand the issues associated with taking the innovation to market, how it will be sold/consumed. Look for willing participants in the form of (enlightened) corporates/investors looking to innovate or staying on top of their game

#7    understand the space you are in – sources of funding (at R&D stage it will likely be from the Government exclusively given the risks involved), the stakeholders providing support or those regulating the space. If you are in a regulated space eg healthcare, this will be critical. In fact, it determines whether you have a business or not

#8    leverage university/RI resources well – not just the usual grant funding or TTO/TLO/TMO support, but also expertise from other departments eg the design and business schools etc. There is a wealth of expertise within the university that is usually untapped. Think “it takes a village to raise a child”

#9   understand competing technologies, particularly those which are close alternatives – there should be clear USPs the innovation offers in order to have commercial success

#10   understand business building fundamentals – product-market fit, market research, business/revenue models, how to pitch to investors/funders. Having a “business” guy on board who can bridge the science and the commercial aspects is essential to ensure funding continues to flow beyond early Government grants. Getting an advisor or mentor on board, preferably an industry veteran familiar with the space would be beneficial in the development and road to market process

#11 put together a good team with the necessary skill sets to take the innovation to market - know that different skill sets will be required as you continue down the path to market. Investors also assess the ability of the team behind the innovation, not just the science behind it

#12 cultivate and nurture investor networks – it’s a long game. Early skeptics can become ardent supporters later as the innovation begins to show promise (see de-risking below)

#13 understand that it is a gradual de-risking process. Know that different investors have different risk appetites. As you remove risks/uncertainties (or mitigate them) different investors will take interest - understanding what they are looking for in an investment will be key

#14 embrace the fact that the path to market will be challenging



 
  • Razif Abdul Aziz
    Razif Abdul Aziz
    Group CEO, Cradle Fund

    Razif Abdul Aziz Group CEO, Cradle Fund Razif is passionate about the dynamics between business and Government, acquired through roles with a major industry regulator and an agency tasked with the development of the Malaysian biotech sector which made him recognise the value of mastering regulatory and public sector frameworks to facilitate business growth. He wrote extensively on the subject matter as a Guest Columnist for the local science newspaper, The Petri Dish, from 2011 to 2012. He also had the privilege of participating in Malaysia’s development efforts to become a major global biotech player when he joined Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp) in 2006. As head of a team charged with the development of local biotech entrepreneurs, he oversaw the management of the Malaysian Government’s BioNexus Programme from 2008 to 2012 which saw 217 companies receive Bionexus Status from the Ministry of Finance.  Razif read Law at Coventry Polytechnic (1991) and is a Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln’s Inn, London (1992)

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