From idea to innovation: what should be considered when approaching researchers?
- 04. December 2020
The Adapter network is a well-functioning link between 3,500 researchers working in fifteen Estonian research and development institutions and all innovative entrepreneurs who need to test a product, service or hypothesis under development with the help of researchers. How to get from idea to innovation?
People are adapters. Problems make us look for solutions and opportunities. For example, economic difficulties force companies to look for smarter ways to improve their situation. R&D cooperation is certainly one way to create a competitive advantage through research-intensive production or service provision. What to recommend to a company looking for a research partner?
From idea to innovation
To begin with, it should be emphasized that researchers generally like to offer help to companies and are happy to share their knowledge. It’s humane. You never know what interesting thing may arise from such cooperation. Many research institutions have encountered projects that seemed strange at first but became successful.
There are many businesses, but far fewer research institutions ready for development cooperation. Of course, not all companies seek active research collaboration or develop something completely new day by day, but some do. These include start-ups as well as old market players, from the manufacturer of handcrafted ice creams to the developer of electric car battery chargers.
Three recommendations for a company looking for a research partner
First, formulate your development goal as clearly as possible. Consider different aspects, ask yourself for example, why do we do it and whether what we do also makes economic sense. If an entrepreneur can convince a potential research partner that this is the way to ensure the economic success of the business, the decision to cooperate will come faster.
Second, think about how a university, institute or laboratory can help you. When we go to help someone, we want to know what kind of help is expected from us. The vaguer the questioner’s question, the vaguer the university’s response to the possibilities. Understandably, a company does not always know which technical solution is right for the problem, but the better the idea of its problem, the more likely it is to find cooperation opportunities quickly. For example, when developing some of the more sophisticated equipment, the company could offer more than a few sentences about the concept of the equipment.
Third, ask yourself if there is time and willingness to go through a science-supported development path that may be longer and more expensive than expected. Maybe it would make sense to use a already existing solution? Maybe the existing one is not good enough? Why? When browsing the explanatory drawings of the international patent database, one may be amazed about everything man has already invented! In addition, Google has its own capabilities. In this way, it may turn out that you can easily buy or license a solution cheaper and faster than R&D can ever provide.
But in the end, I also recommend not to overthink. If you think for too long, someone else will come and do it. Find out more about the possibilities of the Adapter at adapter.ee.