European IP Helpdesk

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Bulletin No. 2 Go-to-Market

So, you and your partners have completed a very successful project. You have produced some results with the potential to become innovations, which can address societal or economic challenges and have a real impact.

But, in order to generate an impact, you have to find a way of turning those results into innovations (products, services, etc) and getting them used.

Whatever exploitation strategy you may have, you will almost certainly need to work with others; people who have the necessary technical, financial, market and entrepreneurial experience and skills, and maybe also with investors. You will need to convince them to invest their time and money on your vision and something which has only just entered the world.

Research Results

Who Can You Trust?

Written by Dr Eugene Sweeney, Senior Policy Advisor of the European IP Helpdesk

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A project result is like a new-born baby. In your eyes it is obviously beautiful, but others might need some persuasion. You can surely see its potential, and you have ambitions for its future; perhaps a doctor, or accountant, or footballer. Whilst you might be prepared to invest in this (if you can), others might need to be convinced before they will spend any time or money.

Hence, you need to develop and mature your offspring into something which will make an impact on society. Babies, like project results, take many years to develop, nurture, mature and become ready to be let loose on the real world and hopefully then go on to be successful and make an impact. Then, how do you find the best (and trustworthy) people to develop and nurture your baby? Surely you wouldn’t trust anyone to do the job!

You might already know people with the right skills and experiences to embark on this journey towards market adoption and subsequent success (maybe one of your partners), but in most cases you will need to look outside your immediate group.

Along the “innovation highway”

For your baby, there are well-established infrastructures and eco-systems, such as kindergartens, schools, universities, vocational and professional trainers to help them become successful sportsmen/women, musicians, actors, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, doctors, accountants, etc. But you wouldn’t just choose the first ones you meet; you would try and choose the best to give your child the highest chance of success. It is the same for project results. Whoever you choose to work with to take your results along the “innovation highway”, they should be someone you can trust to do the best they can.

Remember, whether you choose to assign or license your results to an established company or to a new company, you are entering into a long-term commitment to work together for mutual benefit. It is important that your potential partner has the will, ability, and resources to develop your results to market readiness, take them to the market, and have a good chance of being

successful. Without this, the potential and the impact will not be realised, and everyone will be disappointed.

With any long-term relationship, it is important to get to know your potential partner(s) before you are bound contractually. Therefore, you should do some background research on them.

You will usually be courting existing companies, or potential investors and management for a new company, and there is usually much publicly available information, such as annual reports, web pages, etc. Of course, you should also meet and get to know them in person, to understand their motives, experience and financial capacity. Care should be taken to ensure that a potential partner does not wish to just acquire your technology, only to “put it on the shelf” and protect their own position.

Doing your homework and getting to know your potential partners can also be useful when negotiating the final partnership agreement; for example, for a licence it can help set royalty rates, down payments or other terms.

Of course, partnerships are not one-sided, and you can be sure they will also be checking out you and your baby.