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Archive for April, 2011

By Marielle VokseppRingsThink of your relationship with a VC as a marriage

At last week’s Entrepreneurship 101 lecture on raising money, leading venture capitalists divulged the secrets of successfully pitching to an investor. The secret is in the relationship.

The panel discussion, led by Barry Gekiere, Managing Director of the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), featured high profile folks from the VC industry:

And what advice did these top investors have?

When preparing to approach an investor, speak to advisors and other entrepreneurs who have worked with them to find out as much as you can.  Still don’t know where to look for an investor? Read: How to identify an investor for your business.

It takes five minutes for an investor to decide if they are interested in you. Once you have chosen someone to approach with your pitch, make sure you have the right tools. (What tools, you ask? Read: Tools you need to raise money.)

Watch the rest of the lecture video on “Raising Money” to learn more from this Q&A session and hear it first-hand from leading venture capitalists.

Downloads and Resources:

Reposted from MaRS

Marielle works as part of the education team at MaRS. She helps entrepreneurs get access to business resources both online and in-person.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Sarah O’Neill

Did you know that the after-tax cost to Canadian businesses of funding industry-driven, university R&D, in collaboration with NSERC, can be as little as 17 cents on the dollar? This figure applies to a company’s cash contributions to a university research partnership, for which NSERC typically supplies two dollars for every dollar of business investment. Such investments are also eligible for tax relief, including refundable cash in many instances, under Canada Revenue Agency’s $4 billion Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program.

Universities and colleges are full of researchers with ideas and expertise that can help your business solve short-term problems and provide fundamental insights into longer-term technological challenges. Many companies are first attracted to universities and colleges to access a unique piece of equipment or solve a specific issue. This often leads to enduring relationships with professors or students that are of even more value to the company.

NSERC has several academic-industry partnership programs available that can help your company’s R&D dollars go further. If you’re new to research partnerships, a great first step is to try our Engage Grant program – $25,000 towards a 6 month project and no company cash required.  Have some cash, and want to get more out of it? Check out our Collaborative Research and Development grant  for 2:1 cash leveraging.

Currently, there are about 3,000 professors and 7,000 students engaged in research partnership projects funded by NSERC. Not sure where to start to find an academic with the expertise your company requires? A great first step is to give us a call at the NSERC Ontario Regional Office; we can connect you to the right people at the university or college.

Sarah O’Neill is the Communications and Promotions Officer at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Ontario regional office.  Sarah can connect you with the information you need to know regarding NSERC’s partnership opportunities.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jasmeet Duggal

RIC Centre is proud to present the final session of the Growing Your Business Season III breakfast series – Innovator Idol III. Four emerging companies will have an opportunity to sell their business idea to a panel of industry experts including investors at the third annual Innovator Idol. The presenters will provide feedback from the panel and winner will be chosen by the audience. The winner will receive thousands of dollars, cash/prizes/in kind contribution by the event sponsors.

If you think your company has what it takes to impress the panel and win over the audience with your pitch, submit to take part in Idol III.

Innovator Idol III:

Date: June 15th, 2011
Time:
8:30 am – 11:00 am
Location: Noel Ryan Auditorium (Cross from Mississauga City Hall)
301 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W.
Mississauga, Ontario
L5B 3Y3

Applicants must complete the application form and submit to Jasmeet Duggal at jasmeet@riccentre.com by May 15, 2011, 4 p.m.

Do you know an emerging company that has the next great idea? Send them this link to Innovator Idol III.

Jasmeet Duggal is graduate student pursuing a Master of Biotechnology from the University of Toronto. She is currently the Communications Officer for the RIC Centre, a role which has allowed her to engage in the start up culture, instilling an understanding of entrepreneurship and business development. With her expertise in the life sciences, she hopes to pursue a career in technology transfer to bring innovation in the life sciences to market.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.


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By Caitlin McCabe
doctor mobile technology

Technological developments in the last decade have radically and rapidly changed the average Canadian lifestyle. Our research practices and social habits have moved online with society’s transition to a mobile, quick-access style of information access and distribution.

But what do these changes mean for health care? Innovative companies have a new vision for the delivery of health care, a vision in which modern technology is leveraged to improve the speed, accuracy and personalization of diagnosis and treatment.

The health care IT portfolio includes, for example:

  • Consumer digital health products such as smartphone apps that allow patients to take control of their own care
  • Analytic platforms in helmets and watches which alert the wearer to get tested for concussions or heart problems
  • Monitoring software that tracks the spread of infections within hospitals
  • Online health management tools that help a patient find a local doctor or keep track of their prescription schedule
  • Medical devices that improve the success of surgical interventions

Such innovations offer promising and potentially game-changing solutions for many gaps in our current health care model. But each division has unique business development challenges.

Challenges

Entrepreneurs in the health care IT sector face challenges that span the divide between the life sciences and information technology groups. Some of the challenges include:

  • Clinical validation
  • Technical development
  • Privacy
  • Regulatory issues
  • Often-prohibitive health care policy
  • Hospital infrastructure that may not readily adapt to change

All start-ups have hurdles to overcome, but for health care IT ventures in particular, the potential for improving health care delivery — not just in Canada, but in the wider world as well — is great motivation to stick with the cause.

MaRS’ burgeoning health care IT client portfolio contains many such dedicated futurists, and to these clients, I say: keep an ear to the ground for upcoming Peer-to-Peer sessions and programs designed just for you!

Check out the following resources for more information:

Reposted from the MaRS  Blog

Caitlin helps make sure our clients in the life sciences and health care industry have a great experience with our life sciences practice at MaRS.

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By Robert Brands

What exactly is new product development? Does the “product” actually have to be a product? Or can it be a process? Does the idea have to come from the C Suite? Or can it be a suggestion from the factory floor, the retail showroom, the Idea Box or a customer tip?

How do you treat ideas once they land in your organization’s “idea hopper”, and how wide is your idea funnel?

Answer these questions, and you’ve placed your finger on the pulse of how your organization embraces new product development.

NPD best blossoms in that place where creativity commingles with structure – where fresh thinking is fostered in a nursery of structured liberation. Think of ideas as if they were offspring: They should be free to roam and explore, but they need fences – structure – in their lives to ensure safe maturation in a controlled environment.

The same is true for NPD – regardless of whether products are widgets for sale or processes envisioned to improve the organization. A formalized new product development process will guide your organization towards Innovation through steps and “sub-steps” to help you make a Go / No-Go decision.

A carefully designed business process will take you through all the steps of new product development including idea generation, concept development, prototype development, and scale-up to launching and tracking. And remember that good “products” don’t all necessarily have to result in revenues; they can enhance processes, that in turn, can boost profitability.

Finally, is your organization prepared to measure the results – not of the NP, but of the process itself? Do you have a system in place to gather, measure and share both the success and the stumbling blocks? Are you prepared to ask yourself, how did the process work?

The truth is, future success can be closely tied into past accomplishments – if you’re willing to ask the right questions, create the right environment, and learn along the way.

Robert is the founder of InnovationCoach.com, and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival, with Martin Kleinman published by Wiley. Helping to Evaluate, Improve and Deliver Innovation through 10 Imperatives that Create and Sustain “New” in Business or Organization.

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By Jasmeet Duggal

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, the current innovation model needs some fixing. Its traditional approach to innovation focuses on in house development with the intent of market exclusivity; at least until the patent expires. And guess what? Patent expiration is spreading like wildfire.

As Mark Lundie, Director of R&D at Pfizer highlighted at yesterday’s Innovation in the Life Sciences seminar at MaRS, the innovation gap is growing as R&D expenditure is on the rise while productivity remains low. In other words, billions of dollars are spent on R&D of drugs, while the number of drugs brought to market is limited to the digits on your hands.

The seminar discussion focused on utilizing the open model of innovation, already in use by other sectors, in life sciences.

Michael May, CEO of The Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine defined open innovation as the development of technology that meets environmental stressor or a need where the outcome is a non-zero sum game. The stressor, being patent expiry, for many blockbuster drugs is leading to collaborative initiatives to minimize the innovation gap and increase productivity. Pfizer has undertaken a public-private partnership by embedding their researchers in The Centres of Therapeutic Innovation with Academic Medical Centers to translate science into therapeutic candidates for drug discovery.

Many of the global players in the pharmaceutical industry are established in Canada, making the country well positioned to facilitate public-private partnership. Whether the open innovation model is a true paradigm shift is yet to be established. The bigger challenge is the adoption of this model by Big Pharma.

Jasmeet Duggal is graduate student pursuing a Master of Biotechnology from the University of Toronto. She is currently the Communications Officer for the RIC Centre, a role which has allowed her to engage in the start up culture, instilling an understanding of entrepreneurship and business development. With her expertise in the life sciences, she hopes to pursue a career in technology transfer to bring innovation in the life sciences to market.

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By Joseph Wilson

Turbo EncabulatorHow to communicate your idea to the media

I’d like to introduce you to the Turbo Encabulator. It’s an innovative invention that “would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grameters.”

The product is, of course, a joke, designed to poke fun at the way scientists try to use the media to communicate their products. The footage below is from 1977, but the joke goes back even further. In 1946, the “turboencabulator” became an in-joke amongst engineers on their lack of marketing savvy.

So how can I avoid the “turboencabulator” method?

To begin with, take a careful look at your target market and determine which media are most important to your customers.  Do your customers spend a lot of time on the Internet looking at gadgets? Or do they browse a specific set of stores to find the latest fashions? Do they watch TV or play with their iPhones?

Such decisions will determine where you plant your message.

Time & money

Since you’re running a start-up, your time and money is limited. You can’t afford to blanket the media with billboards, TV ads and flyers. As such, you’ve got to identify the key opinion leaders in your field and target your marketing to them.

Who are the people in your industry that your customers listen to?

Language and your “IP story”

Is your elevator pitch full of technical jargon or clear, meaningful words? A good way of achieving clarity is by using a metaphor to explain your product. One of the reasons the Microsoft Office suite is so popular is because people immediately understand it based on the over-riding metaphor of the “Office.” You turn on your computer to your “desktop,” arrange your files into “folders,” and when you delete something it goes into the “recycling bin” (which used to be called the “garbage” or “trash” in less environmentally conscious times).

One of the most important MarCom skills to learn is the art of the sound-bite. Get a video camera and film yourself explaining your technology.  Go through the following tips for perfecting the sound-bite for different media:

Tips for soundbites

Medium Content
  • Look the interview in the eye (not the camera)
  • Pause for edit points
  • Strong voice
  • Clear, enunciated phrases
  • Less than 20 seconds
  • Mention your company
  • Avoid technical words
  • Use metaphors
  • Avoid cliches
  • Call to action
  • Emotional connection
  • Use numbers and stats

Bite by bite, you’ll eventually gather together a compelling MarCom toolkit that tells the right story to the right people, giving your product the air-time it deserves.

Join us

MaRS has designed a workshop series to help technology clients clearly define their marketing and communications (MarCom) strategy. The Entrepreneurship 201 Workshop Series: The MarCom Toolkit is an interactive, hands-on session of between 15 and 24 technology entrepreneurs devoted to steering them away from the “turboencabulator” method. We go through all of the stuff above, right down to handing out Flip cameras and getting you to film each other.

To enroll for Entrepreneurship 201: The MarCom Toolkit, talk to your MaRS advisor or email entrepreneurship201@marsdd.com.  Workshops are free for clients of MaRS and other innovation centres in the Ontario Network of Excellence.

Reposted from MaRS

JosephWilson is currently an education advisor at MaRS. He also writes on issues of technology and culture for NOW Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Spacing and Yonge Street. He is the Executive Director of the Treehouse Group, dedicated to fostering innovation by hosting cross-disciplinary events.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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