We become part of your team ....
ITECS can help you get over the hurdle of taking technology from research into product development. We are solution seekers that can help you find technology,partners, funding, opportunities and assist in developing and implementing an innovation roadmap. To achieve this goal, we use the tools which were developed andvalidated through our interviews with over 150 technology executives who were deeply immersed in the world of innovation. We asked them about both the challenges they faced in meeting an innovation agenda, as well as best practices they had discovered to overcome those challenges. What resulted from these interviews was our development of powerful tools which can be applied across all our services to remove barriers to innovation and provide a strong foundation of growth for companies.
Some of the tools and resources we bring to the table are:
- A targeted process to find solutions
- Commercial and proprietary databases to map the landscape
- A broad network of technical and marketing subject matter experts from academia, industry, and the public sector
- A top down approach allowing us to identify emerging trends and technologies
- An understanding how to leverage the public sector
- A proprietary review process
We see ourselves as an extension of your team rolling up our sleeves and doing the work instead of making the work.
Take a look at each of our Tools below, or download our Tools brochure.
Open Innovation. It means looking outside the organization to find the resources that are needed to fulfill the innovation mission. One method to secure external resources that we see quite often is crowdsourcing, where a company looking to obtain external skills, technologies or methodologies will issue a specific request to the community and wait for the necessary solution to come back to them. We have found that this is not always the most appropriate method of finding a solution to move technology down the commercialization path, as it involves a too many big “what ifs”. What if the people with the right solutions don’t see the request? What if the people with the right solution don’t realize that they have the right solution? What if we are missing the big picture? We don’t like “what ifs” and try to avoid them at all costs. “What ifs” are like crab fishing – you bait your trap and see what bites.
To reduce the amount of “what ifs”, ITECS has developed a targeted process to help locate, validate and secure the necessary elements to fulfill the innovation mission. Our process begins with a search of the mission specific technological spaces, using our own ITECS database, or commercial databases, such as Inno360, to scour the community for what technologies are being developed that could be relevant to the mission at hand. Once we have identified the appropriate spaces, we meet with the thought leaders in those spaces -- professionals who are working in the forefront of technology development and who are considered experts in their fields, to gain particular insight into the direction the technology should be heading for the best chances of success. ITECS has a vast network to draw on to have the right people provide information about the market and technology space. Once we understand the lay of the land through both the mapping exercise and discussions with thought leaders, we can than weigh all the opportunities and find the best fit for our clients' needs.
Keeping your fingers on the pulse of what is going on in the technological world is imperative to inform an innovation initiative. From the public sector to the private sector, knowing who is working on what technologies can increase the chances of bringing in that right resource, such as funding, technologies, partners or expertise to fulfill the innovation mission in an expedient manner. It is extremely helpful to know which federal agencies have a history of funding a particular type of technology, or which federal agencies are issuing solicitations that are appropriate to an innovation mission. It is also helpful to understand which competitors are receiving funding to develop technology, as well as what small technology-based businesses out there are coming up with fundable ideas that could be leveraged—or which universities are developing technologies that could be licensed. This information represents little nuggets of gold that can be transformed into significant successes. The most time efficient way to harvest these little nuggets is through the use of databases—organized systems of information that provide streamlined answers to the who and to the what.
The ITECS Database
At ITECS we have developed and consistently maintain a searchable database that helps keep that finger on that pulse. On a daily basis, we scour a multitude of websites, journals, newspapers and other online publications, to gather information on what and who the public sector is funding, and what new technologies the public and academic sectors are offering for licensing. We take that information and summarize the pertinent details and provide it in an easy-to-navigate, one stop resource, chock full of information. Our database provides a streamlined resource for our clients to ascertain, at a glance, what funding they might be able to leverage, or what technologies they could license to meet their mission, as well as what consortiums they could become involved with or potential partners they could approach for their innovation pursuits.
While ITECS database is a fantastic tool to employ in keeping up with what is happening in the world of technology, we don’t feel that it is enough. To put some additional punch to the information we provide in our database, we offer, for a reasonable fee, an annual service we call In The Know. This service includes a weekly newsletter, listing the current, open solicitations, in real time. In addition, since we know that the most effective way to leverage the public sector includes early access to the agencies, we include participation in an annual conference of federal agency professionals, such as policymakers, thought leaders and program managers, in our In The Know service. This enables our clients to become involved with the up-front strategies at the agencies and gain some insight of the agencies’ overall goals and directions. To ensure that our clients get the most out of the experience, we include a post conference, one-on-one meeting with our clients to make sure they understand how they can best leverage the public sector. If you would like more information about In The Know, please contact Susan Neylon or download our In The Know brochure.
We also license commercially available databases that can be extremely helpful in moving along innovation initiatives by mapping out the landscape and identifying the technical and marketing areas that we need to investigate. For example, Inno 360, a cloud based innovation management platform, coordinates both technology and marketing electronic information into one source. Through its “advanced visualization tools, semantic search, and social networking", it is a wonderful tool to peel the onion back on your existing market space, adjacent market spaces and white spaces. ITECS regularly employs this type of database to leave no stone uncovered in our search for excellence for our clients.
A case study to help illustrate the power that these databases can bring to innovation pursuits in targeting appropriate solutions resides in our work with a major spirits company who were trying to find a way to accelerate the maturation process of their spirits – they wanted to achieve the same flavor in their spirits, but in a shorter time. We tapped into Inno360, using their platforms where we employed relevant search terms to find technologies that might prove useful. Our efforts yielded us 250 patent families, many in adjacent areas – areas that would not be obvious places to look – to wit, outside the food/beverage industries. Using this database, we were able to provide our client with a group of companies who were working with various enzymes that might be employed to achieve an accelerated maturation for their spirits, surprisingly within the biofuels, coatings, and chemical industries, to name a few. This is an excellent example of employing “spearfishing” instead of “baiting a crab net”, to locate the appropriate solutions to a technological challenge. The places we found solutions would more than likely not have been recognized as the appropriate solution had we used a crowdsourcing mechanism to uncover the appropriate solutions.
Using both ITECS and other commercial databases to identify appropriate potential solutions to innovation challenges is an effective first step on the journey to commercialization. They provide a solid foundation to build on, setting the stage for further investigation and validation.
At ITECS, we have invested the time to build valuable relationships with technologists and industry specialists that are the envy of any CTO. We have strong ties in the public, private and academic sectors. Whether you need access to commercialization partners or help discovering technologies available to license, we have the resources at our fingertips. Besides our proprietary collection of technical and marketing subject matter experts, we leverage three other networks:
*The Industrial Research Institute (IRI): A group whose mission is to provide a robust networking environment for innovation professionals. They boast a membership of over 200 companies and laboratories.
*The Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG): A professional services team consisting of technical and marketing experts, with the mission of matching expertise to need.
*The Federal Laboratory System: The scientists that perform the research in the multitude of federal research laboratories, encompassing all the branches of the Department of Defense, all the programs of the Department of Energy, as well as the USDA, NIST, EPA and more.
Access to a broad network of professionals, is imperative to help speed products to market. We have the ability to locate and leverage the right network to find the perfect individual who can provide invaluable information to move innovation projects forward.
Below are some examples of how we leveraged these networks.
A lubricants supplier wanted to develop a road map for one of their markets. Through leveraging GLG, we identified eight experts who we interviewed about the emerging technology in our client’s market, as well as potential regulations that might be coming down that could affect the market. We also picked their brains about the different specifications and applications around this market area for the entire industrial supply chain. We were able to provide our client with a good overview of the opportunities and challenges they would face by entering this new market. We were able to show them what they didn’t know –and found the right people to help them understand the lay of the land they wanted to enter.
We also worked with a consumer products company who wanted to understand the metrics, resourcing and processes for open innovation. We leveraged our network of technology executives through IRI, and interviewed thirty open innovation specialists, executives who were seasoned in open innovation initiatives and could share their successes, failures and best practices. The outcome of the interviews provided our client with not only a comprehensive view of the best practices out there for the burgeoning principle of open innovation, but also provided a yardstick against which to measure the practices they had already installed, and a tool to help them justify and optimize both existing and new practices to bring them the most impactful solutions.
A final example of the power of access to a broad network can be illustrated with the work we did for a non-profit organization that supports the composites industry. They were seeking to become involved in road mapping with the federal agencies to help support the composites industry. We leveraged our network of federal laboratory professionals to understand what the government was looking for in this area, and which government entities would be appropriate and impactful for our client to work with to best influence the technological missions for the composites industry.
“No man is an island”. “Two heads are better than one”. We’ve all heard these expressions. There is power in people. When you employ a broad network to overcome your challenges in innovation you will find your solutions faster. You will pursue your objectives with more confidence… and you will succeed.
There are several ways to approach a solution. The bottom up path, where the client will identify a specific problem they desire to solve, and, through the use of tools, such as leveraging the public sector for funding, partners and technology, or leveraging our broad network of experts to shed light on the problem and identify possible solutions, ITECS helps guide the client to the best possible path to resolution.
ITECS does not stop there, however. If we did we would miss potential disruptions and emerging technologies and markets. We also, therefore, use a top down approach. In this approach, we look at the big picture first –what megatrends are moving and shaking the world that could be strategically advantageous to our clients. From the megatrend analysis, we narrow the focus to examine potential opportunities and threats that may derail an innovation agenda. Through this approach, we are able to provide, not only a well-thought out direction for our clients innovation plans, but also a comprehensive understanding of any current or new spaces they are getting involved with.
For example, we worked with a beverage company who brought a ton of projects to the table, many of them about improving the flavoring of their products. Through our primary and secondary research of emerging trends and government agency priorities, we discovered quite a bit of activity around bio-based polymers. In fact, several large corporations have been working on transferring their packaging from petroleum based plastics to bio-based plastics. To take advantage of this trend, and to ensure that our client would stay ahead of the pack for their industry, our top down approach led us to recommend that it would be important to also follow what was happening with bio-based packaging technology for their products. We recommended subject matter experts that they could talk to in the area and also hooked them up with the right public sector and private sector consortiums. While our client was aware that the trend was happening, they did not understand the extent of the investment along with the technology that was emerging in the area.
Likewise, when we were working with a chemicals company, we uncovered new opportunities that our client was not aware of. By performing a megatrend analysis, we identified areas that had several unmet needs in the industry that our client could solve. Specifically, when we delved into the energy megatrend, we discovered that there was a lot of activity around chemicals for drilling. We discovered that there was a strong emerging market for proppants, a market that provided an excellent strategic fit with our client.
There is more than one path to success. We always recommend that you not only look from the bottom up to seek solutions that provide specific answers to specific challenges, but also look from the top down when you are developing your roadmaps. This way you will not miss emerging marketing trends or new technologies that could either provide an opportunity or a threat depending on whether or not you have a solution in your back pocket.
Leveraging the public sector for funding, partners and technology is a fundamental tool to use in innovation – and ITECS has the experience and network to streamline the process.
Why is leveraging the public sector so impactful? The federal government is generally about ten to fifteen years ahead of the pack in technology development, and they fund approximately one third of the research in the United States. In 2015, federal spending on research to meet modern challenges reached $136.5 billion, including the funding of major initiatives, such as sustainability, big data, the brain initiative and advanced manufacturing. Leveraging this powerhouse to further new technologies just makes good sense. It stimulates growth at the company level, while mitigating the risk of developing transformational technologies. It revitalizes the overall economy by creating new goods and services and helps speed new, safer, more efficient products to market.
Aside from the obvious funding benefits, leveraging the federal government agencies and labs offers the additional benefits of access to technologies, partners, and expertise, as well as the opportunity to participate in shaping the direction technology will take going forward. Federal agencies are usually quite mission driven, haven established firm roadmaps to guide their research efforts –and they have a strong desire to work with the private sector to achieve their mission. In addition, their intellectual property is more developed than that in the academic sphere, in many cases, much closer to commercialization, shortening a company’s time to profit. This provides a strong environment for either licensing intellectual properties or for partnering with the government.
Leveraging the public sector can also help companies become involved in the ecosystem of the federal government’s research engine, providing access to external expertise, perhaps providing the final piece of the puzzle on the road to commercialization, as well as developing relationships that could evolve into future profitable relationships. The best way to influence the direction of the government investment is to participate in road mapping sessions with the federal government, helping to shape the nation’s research agenda. It provides a forum for universities, small businesses and large corporations to gain tremendous technical and marketing insight, as well as to help drive the future next best thing.
It is a powerful tool, leveraging the public sector to bring concepts to fruition –- but it is a complicated world to navigate. Fortunately, ITECS regularly helps clients secure and leverage this funding to accelerate their technology, compressing the cycle of ideation to commercialization. For the last decade, ITECS has helped some of the world’s most successful companies do business with the government. During that time we have assisted our clients in securing over $290 million in R&D and capital funds and a half a billion dollars in new product sales.
We know this world. We have a broad network that allows us to access this world. We have developed the tools that you need to flourish in this world.
ITECS is committed to delivering quality recommendations and paths forward to bring products to market. We leverage all the tools we have developed over the years to uncover the best possible solution to the technological challenges that our clients bring to us. However, as with any undertaking, it can happen that you can be too close to the activity to see it with an unbiased eye. We know this. We know that this can provide a less than comprehensive solution to technological challenges. We find this unacceptable. Therefore, we developed the Red Team Review, a process to bring in external experts (those not involved in assignment) to assess the completeness, accuracy and power of our recommendations after we have completed the assignment.
The Red Team consists of experts who are known for their strategic thinking, who are high level executives who possess a breadth of vision which exceeds the narrow technological field of inspection. They are, let’s say, the final filter that we pass our recommendations through before we wrap up an assignment. They are invaluable.
For example, we did a project for CCEFP in which we uncovered about twenty opportunities for their technology to move forward, a few which centered around becoming involved with DOE’s EERE program to advance their technology. Our Red Team, in this case, a group of five technology executives, reviewed our findings and found that some of the technologies we recommended to our client were too early stage for them to be funding. They recommended instead that our client become involved with EERE to gain a full understanding of their mission and partner with companies that were further downstream in technological development in these areas. They also recommended that our client become involved in a Navy research program because their technology had applications that could solve some issues the Navy were experiencing in electrifying their ships. In this case, the red team review provided our client with invaluable information that could help ensure successful innovation.
The Red Team review has become an integral part of our service to our clients. We don’t perform any assignment without passing it through this final filter. It is the icing on the cake – the final stroke of the brush –uncovering the final stone….. and it has provided our clients with sound, impactful recommendations on how best to proceed with their innovation challenges.