Developing a technology or innovation to the point where it might have commercial viability is a process in and of itself. Building a corresponding business case around that specific technology or innovation is a completely separate and independent process. Within the world of innovation-based economic development, I often refer to these dynamics as “the two ladders.” The progression starts at the bottom and moves upward toward a specific destination – an evolution.
Technology advancement is sometimes best evaluated against what are commonly known as “Technology Readiness Levels” – a scale that starts with a technology concept or application being formulated; moving toward validation in a laboratory; moving toward a prototype that is in turn validated in a lab and then in a relevant environment; to a fully functional system or successful incorporation of the technology in an operational setting. The process may take several years or only a couple of weeks but development toward a specific series of goals is the focus.
On the business-focused ladder, the evolution is likewise best evaluated via specific milestones. Different business models have different pieces, but generally the questions around determining value; gaining market intelligence; developing a brand; and engaging customers are most common. These specific achievements can be fluid as well – as a technology or innovation advances, new value or additional applications may be realized thereby requiring further development of the business opportunity.
If you are an entrepreneur currently wrestling with the process around bringing a technology or innovation to the marketplace, feel free to contact us here in Middlebury, Vermont. Our expertise may allow you to find a viable path up each of these two ladders.