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DP2: Demand Pull Program

Method

 

The Demand Pull Project is seeking technology solutions that address critical needs of people with hearing, communication, mobility, and visual impairments. These needs have been identified through primary market research contained in the Stakeholder Forum Proceedings. A companion a project, entitled Facilitating AT Industry Innovation through Focused Market Research, provides an overview of each industry segment.

The Demand Pull Project team works with each technology developer to identify those services that are likely to provide an efficient and cost-effective means by which to transfer their technology and lead to successful product commercialization. The "method" described here is adapted on a case-by-case basis in response to each developers unique needs. However, a "typical" Demand Pull Project follows a series of steps:

  1. Locate technology solutions
  2. Broker the transfer of technology solutions to manufacturers in the private sector
  3. Expand Commercialization of products resulting from these transfers

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Locate Technology Solutions

Problem statements summarize critical needs that have been identified for people with hearing, communication, mobility, and vision impairments. Each problem statement focuses on a single technology or group of closely related technologies. For example, one problem statement for visual impairment is Travel Route Planning and Navigation.

Problem statements include an assessment of the business opportunity, a review of current technology, and specific technical requirements (features, functions, and performance) for sought-after technology solutions. Problem statements begin with a brief abstract of key points written in clear language – recognizing that the marketing, management, engineering, or scientific professional reviewing the document may be disinclined to "translate" a document rife with rehabilitation jargon.

Short problem statement abstracts are written for inclusion in brochures, press releases, and conference presentations. Problem statements and abstracts are widely disseminated via trade publications, the internet, and partner agencies; and through university technology transfer offices, and other Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers.

Technology developers typically provide non-proprietary "proposals" through our online submission form. Project staff review each proposal received; establish its overall quality and its quality relative to similar proposals. When necessary, technical experts are asked to review proposals under a non-disclosure agreement. Screening criteria include:

  • What market need is being addressed?
  • What is the market potential for this technology?
  • What are the competing products?
  • What is the technology's state of development?
  • Does the developer control the intellectual property?
  • What are the research and development capabilities of the developer?
  • What is the developer's business objective?
  • Does the proposal appear to be technically feasible?
  • What is the history and credible achievements of the developer?

Each developer is notified of the outcome of the technology review. When a proposal is accepted and the developer accepts T2RERC assistance, a commercialization strategy is developed and then implemented to achieve the developer's business objectives.

When a proposal is not accepted or the developer declines T2RERC assistance, they are referred to other technology transfer resources. In all cases, the T2RERC seeks to provide value to technology developers.

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Broker the Transfer of Technology Solutions

The project team works with the technology developer to clarify their business objectives and to construct an efficient and cost-effective commercialization plan by which to achieve these objectives. Commercialization plans may include a range of cost-free services provided by the T2RERC to the technology developer that include:

  • Conducting market research; technology review; competing product analysis; and preliminary patent search
  • Developing non-proprietary technology disclosures
  • Assisting in the development of commercialization options
  • Identifying and contacting potential business partners
  • Assisting in negotiations with potential business partners as a neutral, experienced broker
  • Identifying funding options

Additional shared-cost services may be recommended. Examples of shared-cost services include:

  • Focus groups:
    • identifying design requirements for new products;
    • refining existing product's design;
    • validating prototype product designs;
  • Surveys
    • establishing design priorities
    • establishing price points and purchase intent
    • on-line surveys
  • Grant development assistance
    • SBIR/STTR

Important Note: The technology developer makes the final decision on which services they wish to accept.

A non-proprietary technology disclosure is written to facilitate discussions with potential business partners. Each technology disclosure generally includes an abstract, a market analysis, a technology description, statement of intellectual property, a brief summary of the business objectives and contact information. Business objectives include license agreements; distribution agreements; joint research and development; internet marketing and sales and many other options.

Potential business partners are identified, contacted by T2RERC staff and receive the technology disclosure. The technology developer is informed of contact progress and interest from potential business partners. At the discretion of the technology developer, direct negotiations are initiated with support by T2RERC staff.

Important Note: Technology Disclosures are placed in the Technology Available section of the website.

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Expand Commercialization of Products Resulting from Transfers

The T2RERC often continues to support the technology developer in order to maximize the technology developer's business return on investment and to maximize the benefits new products and technologies provide to consumers. Strategies employed to realize new markets, increase market penetration, and extend product lines are often built into the commercialization plan. These strategies may include:

  • Product marketing through the T2RERC website, trade publications, and partner organizations.
  • Identification of internet distributors.
  • Identification of business opportunities.
  • Networking and referrals with the federal labs, university researchers, and technology developers.
  • Product promotions at conferences.
  • Inclusion of product in T2RERC Efficacy Study.

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