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Market Research is Key to Commercialization Success

September 26th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

keys-to-successArticulating a compelling commercialization strategy in your SBIR/STTR proposal is more important than ever for funding success. A credible commercialization plan must be built on a foundation of current and relevant information about the commercial opportunity you’re pursuing. The process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting that information is called Market Research. Market research is used for developing effective strategies, weighing the pros and cons of a proposed decision, determining the future path of the business, and much more. Competitive Intelligence is an important component of determining market strategy.

Primary research
Primary research gathers information directly from end-users, prospective customers, or other individuals with knowledge of the market. Techniques used for primary research include:

  • Interviews (either by telephone or face-to-face)
  • Surveys (online or by mail)
  • Questionnaires (online or by mail)
  • Focus groups gathering a sampling of potential clients or customers and getting their direct feedback

Relevant information includes product usage patterns, as well as attitudes, preferences, and opinions about current or future products. Questions might include:

  • What factors do you consider when purchasing this product or service?
  • What do you like or dislike about current products or services currently on the market?
  • What areas would you suggest for improvement?
  • What is the appropriate price for a product or service?

Citing primary research data in your commercialization plan increases its credibility because it demonstrates that you’ve begun the process of engagement with various stakeholders in your target market. This is probably one important reason why graduates of NSF’s I-Corps “customer discovery” program have reported a significantly higher funding success rate with Phase I proposals.

Secondary Research
Secondary research analyzes data that has already been published. Secondary data allows you to identify competitors, establish benchmarks and identify target segments. Those segments might include people who fall into your targeted demographic-for example, those who live a certain lifestyle, exhibit particular behavioral patterns or are within a predetermined age group.

The validity of secondary market information obviously depends on its source. Does the responsible organization or individual have sufficient knowledge and experience in the market to make them credible? Even when they do, the danger for an entrepreneur is in relying solely on expert opinion and secondary research for the market analysis. The experts will not be buying or using your product so their opinions must be validated by talking with real people before you finalize your commercialization strategy. In this case, the caveat might well be “seller beware.”

“Failure to do market research before you begin a business venture or during its operation is like driving a car from Texas to New York without a map or street signs,” says William Bill of Wealth Design Group LLC. “You have know which direction to travel and how fast to go. A good market research plan indicates where and who your customers are. It will also tell you when they are most likely and willing to purchase your goods or use your services.” As usual doing your homework will pave your way to success.

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Michael Kurek, PhD, Partner, BBCetc
Thanks to Mike Aistrup for contributing to this post.

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Check Out New Subtopics for Latest NSF SBIR/STTR Cycle

September 3rd, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released its latest SBIR solicitation with a submission deadline of December 2, 2014. We can expect the STTR solicitation to be coming shortly. In the meantime there are some new technology subtopics that you should check out: Biomedical Technologies (BM) BM5. Noninvasive Imaging of Brain Function Educational Technologies and

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Broad Area Announcements Offer an Additional Funding Source

August 18th, 2014 | by Becky Aistrup

Although they are not generally small business set-asides, Broad Area Announcements (BAAs) can be an R&D funding source for small companies to consider in addition to the various agency SBIR/STTR programs. The BAA is a competitive solicitation process used to obtain proposals for basic and applied research, as well as for that part of development

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Budget Justification an Important, yet Underutilized Part of Proposals

July 16th, 2014 | by Kris Bergman

If you’re preparing an SBIR/STTR proposal for the upcoming Aug. 5 NIH or other agency deadline don’t underestimate the power of your budget justification. Numbers on a spreadsheet are only half of the story. Reviewers need to see WHY you are spending money on the things in your budget. Here are some important things to remember:

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What to Do — and Not Do — to Get Your Technology in Front of DOD

June 30th, 2014 | by Jayne Berkaw

Chad Darr, Director of Product Development for Loc Performance Products, Inc. knows a thing or two about getting products in front of the Dept. of Defense. Located in Plymouth, MI, Loc is an SBIR awardee and a full-service manufacturer of large CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machined components and mechanical assemblies for military and commercial applications.

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Strategic Partnering for SBIR-Stage Companies: Finding Your Strategic Partner

June 11th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

This is the third in a BBCetc series on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. Part one / Part two In many ways, the process of finding the right strategic partner is not much different than finding the right customer for your product. Both involve identifying and understanding a problem.

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Telling Your Story: Formatting and Readability Tips for SBIR/STTR Proposals

May 30th, 2014 | by Andrea Johanson

A good SBIR/STTR proposal is made infinitely better by writing and formatting that enhances readability and showcases your technology to its best advantage. So, before you dig in, start by knowing who it is that you are writing for. Depending on the agency, SBIR/STTR proposals may undergo an internal review, an external review, or a

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Strategic Partnering for SBIR-Stage Companies: Types of Strategic Alliances

May 6th, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

This is the second in a BBCetc series on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. Read part one. Strategic alliances come in all shapes and sizes and adapt to a variety of purposes. The most common include: Pooled Purchasing Supplier Partnering Distribution Partnering Franchising and licensing agreements R&D Partnerships (sometimes

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Strategic Partnering For SBIR-Stage Companies: What Motivates Large Companies to Partner?

April 1st, 2014 | by Michael Kurek

Strategic partnering is an important component of the commercialization plans of many SBIR awardees. This is the first in a BBCetc series of blogs on various aspects of finding, consummating, and maintaining a productive inter-company partnership. From the perspective of the small company, the motivation seems both simple and obvious – the need for funding.

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Top five eRA Commons errors account for about 80% of total SBIR/STTR submission errors. Don’t Be That Person!

March 18th, 2014 | by Betty Royster

(Special thanks to Betty Royster and Matt Portnoy of the NIH SBIR/STTR program for their kind permission to reprint the informative post that follows.) Developing an NIH SBIR or STTR grant application requires a lot of hard work and multiple steps. Once you’ve written your application, you must be able to successfully submit it electronically

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