A recent Forbes article provides information on how a CMU invention, Surtrac (Scalable Urban Traffic Control), has reduced travel time by 25 percent and vehicular emissions by 21 percent in its current deployment area in Pittsburgh. This technology reduces energy consumption as well as congestion plays a role in how much energy we use for transportation. As worthy as this technology is, however, it faces challenges in entering the marketplace...and opportunities as well.
At a recent class I taught this Spring, two CMU students developed a non-market strategic analysis that provide both opportunities and challenges for Surtrac to enter the marketplace. You can see this report and others at: https://www.epp.cmu.edu/research/stine.html.
What is a non-market factor? And why does a strategic plan need to be developed for them for emerging technologies? Entrepreneurs and innovators interested in commercializing technology in the biomedical, energy, transportation, information technology, robotics, aerospace, food, healthcare, and other industries require more than knowing whether a technology works and the potential market.
Non-market factors such as regulations, standards, and grants influence product, price, location, research, development, and testing, and other decisions. As a result, public policies provide both opportunities and challenges for the commercialization of an invention. Only by recognizing these opportunities or overcoming these challenges can an invention become a commercialized innovation.
Examples of opportunities include identifying the need for a new product or process as a result of a government-encouraged technological goal or regulation as well as the potential for Federal, state, or local governments to provide needed startup funds or as a possible early market for a new innovation. Challenges include the need to address product-related issues such as environmental, health, and safety concerns; field testing; and manufacturing. In some cases, an agency must approve a product before it can enter the marketplace. Issues such as standards, patents, trademarks, copyright, open standard, open source, and reimbursement policies provide both opportunities and challenges to the entrepreneur or innovator and a non-market strategy is needed to address them.
Throughout this process, innovators may need to interface with policymakers to obtain the optimal benefit. In sum, moving a new technology from invention from discovery to launch requires an innovation public policy strategy.
This summer, I'm planning to write an article about emerging technology non-market challenges and opportunities. If you have any thoughts on the topic, I'd appreciate hearing from you.