What he probably meant was to show a process or new idea in a simple way without losing its complexity.
While making it understandable, also show that the process is important and taking shortcuts doesn’t always work.
Sometimes we do that with words, and commercialisation is one of them.
Just by adding -isation to commercial, we’ve magically oversimplified something that deserves to be simple but actually isn’t.
At Flinders Partners, the commercialisation arm of Flinders University, we’ve been working on making commercialisation a simple and repeatable process.
Let’s take our current global winner in the Best Tech Start Up – Clevertar – as a case in point.
Think of that – the best technology startup in the world (Talent Unleashed Awards 2016) has come from Adelaide – and from research and development at Flinders.
Science rarely produces blueprints for business success. Arguably it never should, but it does provide some great thinking, and some great experiments that validate discoveries.
These are clearly not investible businesses. However they are often catalysts to commercial value.
The way we describe it is that value isn’t the same for everyone. Scientific value is one thing, and commercial value is another.
With Clevertar, some very clever scientists led by Flinders Professor David Powers invented a “thinking head”, a virtual head which lived on a computer and intelligently answered questions.
It was originally devised through some great scientific questions, and thoughts abounded in the scientists’ minds about its usefulness, including connecting with autistic kids.
Back then it was still a catalyst, with strong computer science value but no commercial value.
Flinders Partners looked at it and we thought there must be a way to build that commercial value.
Commercialisation starts with looking for the “right thing” (catalysts to value) and continues with experiments around application and markets – i.e. to get a customer (step 2 after considering intellectual property).
The feedback from entrepreneurs at Clevertar revolved around applications in gaming and how an avatar thinking head could be used.
The experimentation process continued (step 3) and keep looking, even if a product development idea comes to a dead end.
This product had to live on mobile and none of the original development (apart from the learning and knowledge) could be used.
From gaming to property sales, we returned to the focus on children, developing an app for a teenage girl magazine. It worked pretty well yet couldn’t make money.
The next stage of proving the technology could have value meant we pivoted to aged care. What if we could use this technology in a system that acted as a 24/7 carer for aged folk, that also connected to their carers and family when there were issues?
This meant a lot more development – a new platform all over again.
We tested this with the market and there was appetite. Most seemed to think this would fit with their current processes and most care companies could see the value.
Anna was born.
One of the original Flinders researchers, Clevertar director Dr Martin Luerssen, joined forces with Tanya Newhouse, a former Flinders Partners manager, at the spinout company.
Funding and coaching from Flinders Partners was soon bolstered by Federal Government Accelerating Commercialisation grants for further development of the product for aged care, known as Anna Cares.
Step 4: Build a team and patience (based on continued development in Clevertar’s early years).
Step 5: Add the best talent to ramp up the growth with cashflow, business development and other skills.
All this has resulted in an award that has a co-founder of Apple, Steve Wosniak, saying at the 2016 Talent Unleashed Awards in August that he wants to see every kid and elderly person to have Anna to help them.
We still have a long way to go.
Flinders University and Flinders Partners is now working harder than ever to make this part of all the research we do. We want to commercialise – and to partner with South Australian companies to create these outcomes.
We’ve been working on other ideas and there are more Clevertars in the works.
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