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Commercializing Innovation Overview


New ideas are the wellspring of innovation, and innovation is critical for successful technology development. It can be said that a culture of innovation lives in the question more than the answer; that it cherishes the thrill of endeavor more than its conclusion. A culture of innovation actively encourages creative approaches to solve problems for which no known solutions exist. It nourishes excitement with, “I wonder if...”

However, a culture of innovation doesn't endure by creating new ideas alone. Innovation needs implementation — adoption and use — to thrive. For innovators seeking commercial success, a means to transform innovation into commercialization is needed. The transformation process is frequently quite methodical. Consequently, a successful culture of innovation typically incorporates people skilled with both, creative innovation and methodical decision making, to endure. 

A methodical decision-making process reduces risk by providing timely information to innovator and investor alike. It provides a common language so the route, challenges and specific actions needed to achieve the next step toward commercialization are clear to all parties. Candid and common understanding among diverse interests reduces risk. Reduced risk makes supportive partnerships and funding easier to obtain. 

Many tools have been developed to help innovators incorporate methodical decision making processes into their commercialization efforts. All such tools provide the means for diverse innovators and investors to consistently communicate what’s currently known and unknown; and also address the cost to learn what’s needed in order to achieve the next milestone toward successful commercialization. 

When an innovator incorporates a milestone-based, decision-making process into their development process it provides a path to transform their vision into a commercial success that others can see as well.


Commercialization Milestones


This document provides examples of milestones used by funders to understand commercialization status of an innovation.

The pathways to success are broken down into eight sections:

  1. Preliminary Investigation 
  2. Initial Investigation 
  3. Detailed Investigation 
  4. Initial Development and Verification 
  5. Prototype Project 
  6. Commercial-scale demonstration project
  7. Commercial production
  8. Market penetration and diversification