SDU insights inspire startups on commercialising successfully
Good commercialisation strategies are key to creating successful startups. Yet it’s not always easy for startups to pinpoint the right way to go to market. That’s the driving force behind a collaboration between the University of Southern Denmark and Odense Robotics StartUp Hub, where students offer startups their ideas on how to secure success in the market.
New technology needs the right commercialisation strategy in order to be a success in the market. That’s why the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) launched Management of Technology, a subject focusing on barriers and opportunities when commercialising new technology. As part of the course, students provided insights on commercialisation to startups at Odense Robotic StartUp Hub located at the Danish Technological Institute in Odense.
Management of Technology was offered for the first time last year to students from Product Development and Innovation at the Faculty of Engineering. Yet the idea came from the Centre for Integrative Innovation Management at the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences. Here, Associate Professor Marianne Harbo Frederiksen and post.doc Melissa Beach developed and taught the course and ensured a close collaboration with local startups through the StartUp Hub.
“Marianne and co. hit the nail on the head by focusing on precisely this aspect of innovation. Even though many startups can deliver a five-minute pitch, there is often a missing link when it comes to selling the product. And that’s exactly where the Centre for Integrative Innovation Management can help us,” says Peter Smedegaard, Business Development Manager at Odense Robotics, who works with startups at the Hub.
Complex task for startups
Identifying the right commercialisation strategy is a complex and daunting task for many startups. There are many stakeholders to take into account and a holistic perspective is crucial in order to grasp the technology’s full value according to Frederiksen.
”Emergent technology has typically many stakeholders and many barriers to overcome. It’s extremely complex and a lot for a small startup to handle. It requires technology management expertise to identify and address barriers and opportunities – first and foremost at the startup itself, but also at the end user that needs to leverage the solution’s full potential,” she says.
“For example, drones make it possible to gather large amounts of data, but are companies equipped to use the data to its maximum potential? Maybe the company could offer new services over and above its primary technology. And to leverage the potential optimally, developers must be aware of these scenarios and see the technology in its entirety.”
Insights help startups
A total of 36 students worked closely with the five startups from the Hub: ARIS Robotics, Fynbo Technology, High Precision Systems, Monopulse and SubBlue Robotics. According to Smedegaard, it’s provided great value for the startups.
“Odense Robotics StartUp Hub is a hardware hub, with a strong focus on developing prototypes. But going to market requires much more expertise than tech understanding. That’s why this collaboration is such a good match. If an investor comes along, you simply need to know about your market and how you will commercialise successfully,” says Smedegaard.
Simon Jensen from Monopulse, one of the case companies, is an engineer himself and recognises just how important it is to understand the market at an early stage in development.
”Building a bridge between tech and commercialisation is extremely important. At the end of the day, it’s all about meeting a need in the market, so you don’t invest resources in a solution that nobody wants. The students analysed barriers internally in the company and externally in the market. We can apply this knowledge into our product development and our market communications. I believe it can make a considerable difference,” says Jensen.
Student Mathias Bonde Spejlsgaard completed his project together with Monopulse, and he also recognises the value of a comprehensive approach to product development.
”Monopulse develop drones that can locate people at sea and play a vital role in life saving. Despite this clear value, there are still many barriers that need to be overcome such as legislation, public opinion, market structures. By getting involved early on, we could help Monopulse advance their development in the right direction, so they develop a product that solves end users’ needs, and supports a long-term development strategy for the company,” says Spejlsgaard.
Source: Judy Hermansen, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, University of Southern Denmark