Most scientists want to translate their research towards downstream applications: proof-of-concept studies, efficacy and safety studies, and human clinical studies. Researchers want to see their creations advancing towards commercial use, serving unmet needs and providing new diagnostic tools and clinical options. The starting point for commercialization planning begins with your invention itself. Where will your new technology provide benefit? What is the core invention and how do you protect and enable it?
Once the patent is filed, the best way to tell the world about your invention is a peer-reviewed publication. Roll out the news into the non-science world with the support of your research institution or company. Posters, abstracts and presentations at major scientific meetings expose a growing audience to your invention and where it is leading.
Which road forward provides the strongest opportunity for commercialization? A lot depends on the goals of the inventor: are you ready to quit your job and start in your garage? Can you raise grant money for early proof of concept studies? Do you want to found a company and raise money to advance your science? Do you prefer to license technology to a partner? In your field, do companies license technologies at an early stage, or do they wait for the technology to generate revenues, and buy the company? Discussions with your technology transfer and business development groups, and with potential downstream customers and partners can provide the answers to these basic questions. Meetings with early-stage investors can provide valuable input on whether investors see a pathway to make money – not a necessary condition to move your science downstream, but relevant to the question of whether your technology is a candidate for a spin-out.
How far is far enough? Each step forward opens the possibility of new points of connection. You must create a virtuous circle where your research discoveries, financial support and commercial proof-of-concept provide positive feedback enabling continued advances.