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Assistive Technology Transfer Update

 

Title: Overcoming Barriers with Carriers
Author: Philip E. Auerswald
Published: 2003
Publication: Assistive Technology Transfer Update: Vol. 5 (Spring) Annual Report, 2001-2002

The transformation from invention to innovation contains numerous barriers and the challenge is to create carriers that overcome them. These barriers embody the "risk" associated with new ventures because they cause projects to fail. Dr. Philip Auerswald of Harvard University, describes some of these barriers and how to manage the associated risk by overcoming them.

  • Communication barriers arise from the cultural context in which information is stored and retrieved. A carrier is converging on language shared between cultures (e.g., technical specifications). Expertise barriers are asymmetries in the knowledge and experience held by partners, so partners must ensure the recipient organization has the technical competence to implement, produce and then support the transferred technology within a new product.

  • Time barriers include disparities in time required to accomplish actions (e.g., securing internal approval), in labs or universities versus small companies. Carriers include planning a shared timeline, and securing management support for it.

  • Financial barriers are constraints on resources allocated to the project. Carriers are performing due diligence on the project plan to ensure that resource estimates are accurate and sufficient.

  • Due diligence barriers are shortcuts taken and assumptions made to curtail costs when maximizing the number of projects initiated. The carrier is a broker willing to underwrite the cost and/or perform a thorough analysis, to validate the project's opportunities and constraints. Opportunity barriers are decisions to proceed with some projects that preclude proceeding with other projects. The carrier is validated information shared with all decision makers.

  • Return on investment barriers arise from inequities between participants in the risk/return ratio. To entice companies into higher risk ventures, technology producers may have to offer them a higher share of future returns.

  • Capabilities barriers result from limitations in access to the entire value chain or in market readiness for the features/functions of the new product. A thorough business plan addresses the value chain requirements for production, function, quality, price, service, training, distribution and marketing.

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