Hot off the Press: My New Book Chapters on Commercializing Innovations
I recently received a physical copy of “Knowledge, Innovation, and Impact: A Guide for the Engaged Health Researcher”, co-edited by my co-founder Dr. Alex Mihailidis and featuring two book chapters that I had the privilege of authoring. Writing these chapters was a fairly unique, challenging, and fun experience as compared to others that were a lot more academic in nature. They really allowed me to reflect on my own experience in translating research that I worked on for more than a decade into a product that I eventually commercialized at Braze Mobility.
The first chapter (Chapter 42) was “Commercializing Research Innovations: An Introduction for Researchers”, which I co-authored with Lupin Battersby. In this chapter, Lupin and I present some food for thought to researchers who are thinking about or beginning the path of commercializing their research. Key concepts we outline are:
- Licensing vs. launching (which path is right for you?).
- Identifying your market, customers, and value proposition (who benefits?).
- Types of innovation and Intellectual property (discussed further in Chapter 45 by my friends and mentors Richard McAloney and Emanuel Istrate).
- Value chain and key stakeholders (how to get to market?).
- Funding (how to raise money, especially non-dilutive?).
- Creating a business model canvas (how do you put all the pieces together?).
- Sources of support within academia (who do you get help from?).
I hope the guidelines and suggestions above help you along your journey to creating real-world impact.
The next chapter (Chapter 43) was particularly exciting to write: “Case Study 1: Blind Spot Sensors for Wheelchairs – Increasing Access to Independent Mobility”. In this chapter, I describe various aspects of my entrepreneurial journey.
- The challenge: Safety is an issue while navigating in powered mobility devices, which can result in exclusion from the use of these devices. The objective was to find a solution that would enable independent mobility while increasing safety.
- Technology push vs. market pull: What the engineer believes to be the solution is not always what the customer needs and wants – how to avoid this?
- Separating academic and commercial activities (to keep clean records of intellectual property).
- The start-up “pivot”: After more than a decade of developing semi-autonomous systems for wheelchairs (e.g., automatic collision avoidance), I pivoted to creating warning/alert systems instead. Why? Read the chapter to find out!
- Outcomes and impact: a success story of a long-term care resident who nearly lost access to his powered wheelchair, but continues to remain independent and mobile today.