Commercialization in the Grant Process

The Neutrino Donut recently completed a series of review sessions on grants for SBIR, DoD, and a few other places. Commercialization has been a weakness in the process. Let’s review.

  1. You need commercialization experts on your team. People who have taken a product into the marketplace. Not your friend’s nephew and definitely not the grad student who worked on the project.
  2. Who are your customers? Who is going to buy your product? If you have to resell them the product next year, will they be around to buy it? Also, a minor point – do they have money to spend on you?
  3. Who are you selling to? Who approves the sale? Where is purchasing in this process? Who can veto your sale?
  4. How do you create ongoing revenue? Selling to someone once and moving on does not work.
  5. Have you considered partnerships with people who already work with your targeted customers?
  6. Do you need product certifications, such as security with the Amazon Cloud product? This is where the partnership discussion above comes in handy.
  7. Do you have IP that can be acquired?
  8. Do you have any competitors? Don’t forget – doing nothing is a competitor.

Find a consulting organization who can help you with the commercialization part. That would be us at The Neutrino Donut, LLC.

Secrets from the Review Panel – February 2019

The Neutrino Donut recently completed several review panels for grants for DoD and NIH. Here are a few things to remember:

  1. There is a large group of people in the room. Each person has different expertise and different expectations on evaluations. All members comment on specific aspects (science, statistics, commercialization, regulator planning, ethics, user reactions) and rate the overall process.
  2. Score variants between members are generally limited, based upon the discussion. These score variants are discussed as well to understand the issues.
  3. Conflict of interests are aggressively managed.
  4. The suggestion a competing grant winner was able to block your idea is simply not true. There are too many people in the process. Your idea didn’t make it on merit.
  5. There are a limited number of winners. Even if you have a good idea, that may not be enough. You have to be a winner amongst the winners.
  6. We read the applications. Boy, do we ever. We recognize cutting and pasting from other grants, spelling mistakes, incorrect references, and so forth. Grant language which may not be appropriate which has been copied is noticed. It may not hurt, but it doesn’t help. See the winner amongst winner comment above.
  7. Read the feedback. A lot of time goes into the writing and it is designed to provide guidance on re-submitting your grant. You have a group of serious experts giving your idea feedback.
  8. On the DoD grant review, vets are included in the sessions. Their comments have been key to the success of a grant. So, talk to the consumers of your product about your idea. Meditation is a great idea until you are trying to implement the program to someone who is on active duty in a battle zone. Patients can’t smoke at Walter Reed. Prosthesis which do not have ball bearing problems are a good thing. Things I learned recently…
  9. As the commercialization expert, this is a weak spot for grant writers. Get someone who has taken similar technologies to the marketplace to be part of your team. Not a family friend, but a real player. Universities are filled with entrepreneurship programs.
  10. Figure out the IP early on and decide how you want to manage the process. Don’t write it off.
  11. Look at commercial opportunities for your technologies. The concussion marketplace has many opportunities outside the military. These commercial relationships will advance your research and provide more funding. What is not to like?

DoD Review Panel

The Neutrino Donut recently completed a stint as a member of a grant review panel for defense medical technologies. The focus was on mild traumatic brain injuries and attempts to diagnose the condition in soldiers as well as athletes.

There have been extensive gains in this space and a strong focus on identifying patients earlier and seeking treatment. Concussions, which were ignored in the past, are recognized as part of long term treatment issues for many members of our population.

New technologies in understanding the brain, helmet and similar technology support, and treatment programs were all part of the process.

India Startups

The Neutrino Donut recently completed two projects with startups from India. We provided guidance on how these companies could begin the extended process of expanding their markets internationally.

We provided contact points and development opportunities. We also recommended these companies begin by starting with the development of an Amazon storefront, using their sales and fulfillment options.