How to commercialise your business idea? (Part 7)

December 30, 2015

Use the system

Taking into account my previous comments regarding protecting yourself and your idea, there is a range of services and supports available to help entrepreneurs/inventors to develop and commercialise your ideas. You always need to remember who you are talking to and what they specialise in. So talk to:
• Local enterprise/development agencies (including local enterprise offices, partnership companies, local development bodies etc) about pre-enterprise programmes to help you develop your business plan and structure your thoughts on your idea
• University Technology Transfer Offices regarding the development of the idea (technical and commercial), IP protection and possible business incubation. This is for the any idea relating to technology, pharma, telecoms etc. The TTO office has staff who specialise in bringing entrepreneurs through the process and make the connections with the researchers in the university to help develop the idea technically. There may also be funding options available through feasibility grants, innovation vouchers etc depending on the country, region and time.
• Business incubators to help get a business started. There are a range of incubators: for profit, nonprofit, third-level and investment driven. They all provide affordable enterprise/office space for start-up ventures but they all provide other soft supports, networking opportunities and some give access to finance. If your idea is already developed and ready to go, go talk to your local incubator management about practical start-up support. Many incubators also offer business address services, where people can use their business address rather than using their home address if they do not have commercial premises
• Enterprise agencies regarding grants and funding, assistance with internationalisation (exporting), access to trade missions and support from sector-specific experts

Other agencies and enterprise-support organisations offer mentors, advice, connections to key business and public contacts and moral support when things are slow. There is a lot of funding made available by local, regional and national governments to promote innovation and new product development. Officials see this as a key economic growth factor and there is significant lip service made in this direction, even if the technical and economic understanding behind the rhetoric is a little thin at times. Find out what is available to your in your area and leverage the available resources to help you.

A final but important point is that agencies and organisations are made up of individuals and the strength of the agency is only as good as the strength of the people working there at the time. The reality is that many bureaucrats simply ‘do not get it’ and potential entrepreneurs may get frustrated by being ‘bounced around the system’. If you have a negative experience with an agency you must not be put off, it just could be the individual bureaucrat. In every system there are key, competent, people who do ‘get it’ and part of the process is finding the right people. Talk to people who have been through the system and had positive experiences and ask them who they dealt with and how they went about building relationships. Get referrals to the people in the system that do facilitate innovation and work with them. Use the system!

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