Strategic Steps Two and Three on Creating your Big Picture

June 11th, 2013
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Albert Einstein once said, “The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.” While product development processes differ from scientific discovery, they still can be a subject of wonder for many a life science executive. In a previous Popper and Company post, I addressed the first step toward successfully introducing a new product or service, namely knowing where you are in the process. In this post, I’ll cover two more important steps to commercialization: determining the right partner and refining your strategy.
Step Two: Pick your partner (and your partnership arrangement) wisely
When looking to commercialize a healthcare innovation, the first item of consideration for most life science companies is usually money. But a number of other important issues need to be addressed before positive cash flow becomes a reality. One matter is looking for organizations or people who can help you. The most common need of a new enterprise or startup organization is a partner with development expertise that you and your firm may lack.
For example: your company is developing a novel imaging approach that could have applications in clinical diagnostics. But the novel imaging technology needs to be embedded in some kind of instrument system, say, precision microscopy. This instrument system is more than likely comprised of hardware well beyond your expertise. In that case, the right partner is the one with the instrumentation and the ability to adapt it to your novel imaging (or the ability to adapt your innovation to the instrument!).
Of course, there are other kinds of partnerships. The right type will depend on your strategic position, technology and development ability. But whatever partnership you create, there’s a need for a realistic assessment of how much money would be made from commercialization. That amount will depend on how you operate. Some organizations may simply want to sell an invention and move on, while others want to grow by developing and marketing the life science product. Still others can outsource development and manufacturing, leaving them the freedom to develop more innovations. These are not necessarily decisions that need to be made at once, but they ultimately need to be made.
Step Three: Refining your strategy
As you move along the development pathway, things happen. Technology changes, new opportunities present themselves, or you and your partners decide to change how you do business. All of these events will require you to refine or enhance your strategy—so, this refinement activity can easily be constant (and we might argue, should be).
To make sure your refinements are more rational than radical, it’s advisable to reflect often on the applications for your technology. Could it be applied to clinical diagnostics? To the physical fitness industry? How about military applications? These examples are three distinct markets—a strategy refinement could be to invite principals in a company that have backgrounds in each of these markets. You can even work all three markets—here, you might have partners for one or two applications, while maintaining rights to the third. Then, when you’re ready, use proceeds from your active markets to penetrate the remaining one.
The next step(s)? We’ll talk about identifying markets and segments for your new innovation. To be sure you don’t miss a future post in this series and to learn more about my take on the strategic partnering process, please subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, or send me an email.

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About the Author:

I co-founded Popper and Company more than ten years ago to help life science companies at all stages of development and of all sizes address inefficiencies in health care. Along with my team members, I focus on helping clients develop and implement strategies that enable the application of technology and processes to improve health care in novel ways, often through the establishment of relationships with industry partners. Click to send me an email.