Simon Feasey and Iain Hosie, from Revolution Fibres, discuss the key steps in developing an idea into a commercial product.
Milestones: agreed events or stages in a project that are indicators of progress.
Go/kill points: Simon uses this term to mean milestones in a project at which you decide whether to proceed (go) or to stop (kill).
Ask your students to listen to the video and identify the key steps that Simon and Iain discuss.
Your students could also watch other Innovation stories and consider what similarities there are in the steps taken by other innovators when developing their ideas into products.
Naturally, the first stage is the need. You need to have a customer, you need to have a path to market established so that what you’re actually going to produce is gonna have a good chance of success to get out to where it’s required. So that would be definitely the first step, and we had that with our customer HRV. Second for us, it was really important to understand the electrospinning process and how that differed and how that enabled us to make something unique. And of course, there’s funding is a huge step in commercialising a product because it takes time and money.
We used government funding a lot in our early stages, and so that meant that we had to forecast our business out to 3 years ahead. So essentially, we were creating a business plan right from the very start, and I think that helped us quite considerably, but there’s been a lot of discipline in place in the business to not go too far out into various directions which our technology can do and trying to stay very, very focused on the nanofibre itself.
There’s milestones, so it’s really important when you’re developing a product to have go/kill points along the way because, if it’s quite easy to establish whether it’s going to be economically feasible without having to do a lot of work, you make that the first milestone, do some research, find out whether or not it’s going to be economically feasible. That might be the end of the project right there even though it’s a great idea. So those points are really important. Finally, once you’ve actually got a product developed, you’ve got a prototype and you’re ready to go, you have to actually have the manufacturing capability.
On the commercial side, some of the biggest wins we’ve had, for example, with the Xantu.Layr in fishing rods, have been taking an idea to a company that’s willing to try a few things very early on in the technology as well.
Simon Feasey, Iain Hosie
Albert McGhee, Hansol Cha, Cody McClure, Gareth Beckermann
The Royal Society of New Zealand, TVNZ 7 in partnership with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Crown Copyright, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Kilwell Sports www.kilwell.co.nz