If You Build it, will They REALLY Come?
Tags: commercialization, Entrepreneur, federal funding, marketing, SBIR, STTR
The review criteria for successful SBIR/STTR proposals typically emphasize an innovative technology solving a significant problem in the market. What this means is that, to be successful, companies must present:
- A sound technical approach, in tandem with,
- A credible commercialization strategy
Too often, entrepreneurs and scientists involved with early-stage companies focus their proposal development energies on testing the feasibility of a technical concept and developing a prototype, with little, or even no, information on how they expect to bring this innovation to market. And when we ask how they plan to do that, their answer is that once they build the technology, it will most certainly attract customers and become profitable.
This is the dreaded “Build it and they will come” commercialization strategy, which, alas, will not pass muster in the real world of marketing – or of SBIR/STTR reviewers, for that matter.
BBCetc reviewers stress right from the initial strategy meeting that companies must investigate the accessible market, know the size of the target market, and identify customers and their needs, in parallel with product development activities. In fact, in our experience, a very key factor in successful commercialization strategies is the incorporation of strategic business development activities into the product development timeline. By doing this, you are much more apt to develop a commercially relevant, innovative technology with full knowledge of who will buy it early in the process.
The Sept. 5 NIH deadline is approaching, so now is the time is now to know if you build it, who will come?
Michael Kurek is Partner, BBCetc