Develop your Commercial Strategy

The next stages in this process support the development of a detailed business plan and financial model. 'Develop your Commercial Strategy' has been designed as a sense check to ensure that you've got all of the main bases covered - you know what resources you need, where you might be able to get them from, and that you're pretty sure you're going to be able to protect your solution to ensure a sustainable competitive advantage.

1

Review Required Resources

Identify your milestones

Start with what you're aiming for over the next 12-18 months. These should be milestones or goals that will dramatically increase the commercial value of your solution, and are likely to include:

  • Technology milestones - such as evidence generated from hypothesis validating experiments or the development of a functional prototype;

  • Human resource milestones (key hires) - this might be the formation of a scientific advisory board, chairperson or management team;

  • Legal milestones - primarily patents filed on your core technology;

  • Funding milestones - securing grant funding, angel investment (usually from wealthy individuals) or venture funding (from private funds, focused on early stage opportunities).

Write these down - they will support the development of your financial model. You can work backwards from these to decide what expenses to prioritise.

2

Develop a financial Model

This tool - developed by LTSE - is referenced in a couple of places because it's super useful. It enables to you create a cashflow graph, with some pre-programmed assumptions that you can easily edit, add to and delete. 

If you're happier working in Excel, here's a template to get you started which contains some of the expected line items, and associated costs. Make sure that you only edit the values in the 'Assumptions' tab, and check the notes associated with some of the cells. Cells highlighted yellow are highly variable items, and will need to be worked out based on your specific innovation.

With both of these models there are two important questions to answer:

  1. How much money do you need

  2. When will that money run out?

Identify Resources

This Imperial College Health Partners tool provides a comprehensive overview of the funding sources available for UK innovation development dependent on your stage.

The EPSRC's national equipment sharing portal enables you to search for equipment located at universities across the UK.

3

Protect your intellectual property

IP provides legal rights over the products of human inventiveness, can protect you from competition, and is usually expected by investors. This article will give you a quick run-down of IP including: what it is, where it can be hidden, and whether it's good or bad. 

Can you patent?

There are multiple types of IP, including: patents, trademarks, registered designs, copyright and individual agreements (such as employment, licence and confidentiality agreements).

To successfully file a patent:

  • the invention must be statutory;

  • the invention must be new;

  • the invention must be useful; and

  • the invention must be non-obvious.

If you have any questions, Ask Patents is a question and answer site for those considering engaging in the patent system and is a useful resource (especially for first-timers).

Perform a high level search of what else is out there

Patent databases are valuable sources supporting you to work out what else is out there.

 

You need to effectively define at least 10 keywords that describe your invention specifically enough to avoid being overwhelmed by what's out there. At this point, consider engaging a patent attorney (send an email to hello@yarvie.com if you need support finding someone in your specialist area). 

This project was joint-funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Brain Injury MedTech Co-operative based at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University of Cambridge. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

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