You need to understand what your customer wants and what value they put on getting it! It sounds obvious, but I have seen many fall into the trap of thinking that their new technology is wonderful without considering who will buy it, how it will fit into, or disrupt, the way these customers currently do things, what the “cost” of change would be.
You need to be honest about your ability to deliver the produce or service - and the cost of doing so. This requires a precise definition of what the product or service will be. Getting the specification wrong because you don’t ask the right questions can waste a lot of time and a large amount of money.
You need to understand the time requirements of your potential customer and the constraints on you satisfying them. Do they have customers? Is there a major event that they would aim for? Do you have competitors who are developing their own answers to the customer needs?
You will need money to pay for it all. Where are you going to get it? Can you make enough progress with debt to give you a stronger case for investment? Is there a sufficient return to interest potential investors? Are there government or European grant schemes that can help?
David has over 25 years experience in developing and commercializing materials technologies with British Petroleum, Courtaulds, and ICI in a variety of roles, before joining the UK Governments Technology Strategy Board as Director of Innovation Programmes. He serves as the Chairman Oxford Biomaterials and is a Non-Executive Director of Oxford Advanced Surfaces Group Plc.
14 February 2018
Last year saw a lot of analysis of Catapults. Some, who wondered about the history, made contact with me and other “old lags”, but most seemed to not worry what Catapults had been aimed at, what political constrictions had been applied to change their original goals, and the whole “political” dimension of their existence and how these factors played into their current perceived performance. This was always moderately normal behaviour in government as far as I could see.