R&D Technology Transfer Forum: Unlocking the Potential (Part 2)

Friday, November 17, 12:00 - 12:30 PM

Changing the Culture: Accelerators and Incubators as Catalysts for Disruptive Innovation

Nick Dougherty, Program Director, PULSE@MassChallenge

Innovation Bridging, Accelerators and Incubators are creating a new class of environments that revolutionize the way in which innovation takes place in R&D programs. The aim of these entities is to emphasize the diversity of ideas, spawn an array of differentiated technologies, and grow the collective capabilities that can be leveraged by others for success.

The challenge to date has been how do well-established companies with their existing traditional models for progressing R&D programs take advantage of this growing landscape of external entities successfully? There are myriad ways in which companies have attempted to create integration models that lead to partnerships and collaborations, yet the dynamics of well-established companies are often slow to respond. They often lack the ability to be agile and flexible or the aptitude to invest and assume risk so common in start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures. Is it possible to change this culture?

Technology Scouting in the Commercial World

Ben Gibson Sr., Owner, Solution Architect, SyrRoc Systems

Value propositions in research and tech transfer are analogous to value propositions in consumer and commercial markets. Our work must solve the receiver’s pain points to the extent they are willing to “pay money” to get it.

What we often call obstacles to tech transfer is our inability to understand what the receiver needs to accomplish their mission. We know our mission and what we want to “sell” and what we think they “should have,” but we don’t always understand how our gain will alleviate the biggest pain in their mission.

When you align the pain/gain intersection, the tech will transfer. This is not entirely a pull process. It is also a push process. In the pull process, we analyze the needs of the receiver. In the push process, we develop hypothesis of what receivers might need and work with them to validate our beliefs. When the validation meets their mission at the pain/gain intersection, the tech will transfer. This is an active process where we learn, adjust and pivot until we find the match. Tech transfer is not something we do at the end of our work, it is something we do with agility throughout our process.

Everyone active in the Tech Transfer cycle—the scientists, engineers and researchers—are all people on a mission! If we actively add behavioral science to our physics, chemistry, biology, etc. and use scientific methods to understand what people need, our obstacles will fall and the tech transfer yield will rise.


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