When you have information about the patent potential, market potential and technical feasibility of your idea, your next stage is to make a decision on if and how to develop and commercialise the resultant technology.
There are effectively three significant factors to consider with the subjective feedback and objective information that you have found out whilst evaluating your idea:
Being able to protect intellectual property and/or keep the novel and commercially valuable features a trade secret will give you a definite advantage.
If your competitors can reverse engineer your technology then this will limit your market potential. Initially, when the competition does not have the same features as your technology, your market penetration will be high. However, if your features can be legally copied, your competitors will begin adding them into their products and may even come up with new features of their own, based on your original innovations, which will reduce the attractiveness of your technology and hence your sales.
Trade secrets, such as the recipe for Coca-Cola, can be even more valuable than patents provided that you are confident that nobody can discover your secrets and incorporate them into their technology. Patents have a limited lifetime, when you can monopolise the features, which last 20 years in Europe, including the UK, and is similar in most countries, though there are exceptions.
If your idea can be first to market and quickly gain customer acceptance then protecting the idea from competition may not be an issue, as your product will already have dominated the market. However, even technology that dominates markets, such as the George Foreman Grill, still progress with patents as a deterrent to any company even thinking of making a product for that market.
The scope and perceived value (improved outcome/satisfaction, cost saving, time saving, etc.) of your protectable features, either through intellectual property protection or trade secret will impact on the size of your market or markets and the share.
This will help you estimate a potential market share for the various market applications for your technology.
The initial evaluation should have identified the potential markets for your proposed technology but there is no harm in having one last brainstorm for any last minute sectors that could find an application.
Your review of your competition to determine your unique selling points will help estimate the market share for your idea and the rate at which you penetrate this market. These estimates should be corroborated by the commercial experts and end users that you have approached for their opinion otherwise a review of the market penetration is called for.
Technical feasibility is the final factor that determines the viability of your innovation and, in some ways is the most critical. The first two factors have identified an opportunity but it is the technical feasibility that determines if that opportunity can be realised and how you can hope to realise it.
The issues surrounding the product development such as design, materials, tooling and manufacturing costs will have to be compared against the competition to determine if the technology can be developed and how the costs compare against the competition.
The selling of the developed product will require regulatory approval, safety checks, reliability checks, maintenance requirements and transport issues.
These can be expensive to undertake by yourself in some circumstances, for example if the initial production runs were small for a mass market product. However large companies may start with larger orders or contract manufacturers who already manufacture stock for them which can have considerable cost savings.
Processing these issues will determine if the risks associated with the development and commercialisation of the proposed technology are outweighed by the commercial benefits of taking the product to market and whether you and your potential project partners can take the product all the way to market or whether it would be better to assign or license the proven technology to a company with experience in commercialising and selling new products to that particular market.
Smart Idea Store
February 4, 2013