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By Jasmeet Duggal

For the life science community, the BIO International Convention is an annual event that provides a global platform to showcase its talent.  I had the pleasure of attending the BIO 2011 Industry Liaison Meeting in Toronto yesterday. Among the attendees was the Minister of Research and Innovation, Glenn Murray, who shared his vision to ensure a prominent Ontario presence at BIO 2011.

The theme of this year’s pavilion was introduced as Innovation in Healthy Aging, with a focus on job and investment, international initiatives, philanthropy, and research and commercialization.

BIO International Convention takes place in Washington, D.C. from June 27th-30th.

Several examples were presented at the meeting to highlight the pavilion theme; once  was of Profound Medical Inc. – seen as an innovator in the Ontario life sciences industry. Profound Medical  produces a minimally invasive medical device that combines ultrasound thermal therapy with the imaging capabilities of MRI to treat prostate cancer.

Profound Medical, Inc.’s CEO, Paul Chipperton, will be a panelist at the May 12th Growing Your Business Seminar. Having been a successful entrepreneur in the biotech start-up business, Paul will bring to the conversation his insights on negotiating the perfect term sheet. Click here to register for the session.

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 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 Knowlton Thomas

The Supreme Court of Canada will officially take a look at copyright laws and how can they be updated to better reflect material downloads from the internet.

Quoth The Province:

The justices have granted leave to appeal in a case involving music in video game downloads and another brought by the major Internet service providers. They both stem from a 2007 Copyright Board decision setting royalty scales for downloads.

The Federal Court of Appeal refused last fall to review the board’s decision and the video game industry and the big service providers went to the Supreme Court. Their cases will be heard alongside a third case pitting composers, authors and music publishers against the big Internet companies over payments for downloading previews.

The courts seem to be dawdling with all of this, but they need to recognize how crucial firm laws on internet downloads are. The problem here is that the courts move more slowly than the technologies they’re trying to figure out, making it impossible to reach verdicts that aren’t antiquated before they exist.

Reposted from Techvibes Media

Knowlton Thomas is the Associate Editor of Techvibes Media. He is also the Web Editor of The Other Press, a weekly newspaper, and a regular columnist for them as well.

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 James Burchill

The term ‘mobile marketing’ is thrown around a lot these days, but many people are only vaguely familiar with what it actually is. It’s important to understand the fundamentals of what this new breed of marketing is, how it works, and why it’s important to begin utilizing it for your business.

Nearly every business can benefit from using mobile marketing and advertising methods. Whether your business is virtual, brick-and-mortar, or both, you can utilize this new and powerful marketing tool in some way.

Defining Mobile Marketing

To start with, let’s define the phrase ‘mobile marketing.’ The Mobile Marketing Association defines it as:

‘..a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.’

Broadly, this refers to mobile phones, smart phones, wireless handheld devices such as the iPad or ultra-portable netbooks, and so forth. Usually, the focus for mobile marketing is on mobile and smart phones, however. The term ‘wireless marketing’ is often used, though this is less descriptive.

Common Mobile Marketing Tools

Marketing to cellular phones didn’t really hit the main stream until about five or six years ago. This was due to the introduction and wide adoption of short message service (SMS) text messaging. At first, the methods were ad hoc with a lot of hit-and-miss attempts (and angry consumers). Since many wireless carriers were charging customers by the message, these customers would get angry when businesses sent them unwanted texts.

Eventually, as unlimited SMS plans became common and marketers became more savvy about opt-in methods, this smoothed out to the common practices used today. Today, most mobile marketing is opt-in and requires the potential customer to actively sign on to marketing lists. This is usually done by having them send a text to a corporate number (often a five- or six-digit number) to opt-in.

Systems have been built around this marketing to include opt-out options for the user (generally by sending a message to the corporate number again) and even allowing for surveys and interactive, automated communications.

Newer phones are capable of multimedia message service (MMS) interaction on top of SMS. This allows for images, short videos, audio and other media to be sent to the mobile phone. Most newer phones with a colour screen are MMS capable. This is the newest and hottest trend in mobile marketing right now. It otherwise works in the same way as SMS marketing and often uses the same systems.

How the Small Business Can Utilize Mobile Marketing

The SMS and MMS systems listed above are cost-prohibitive, of course, so many small business owners believe them to be out of reach. Third-party providers and services, however, are now proliferating the market and allowing greater access to small business.

Mobile Web marketing is another tool used by businesses looking to tap the portable market. This is basically the same as any other Web-based marketing, but is targeted towards mobile Web surfers rather than desktops or laptops.

Other services, not necessarily meant for mobile marketing, but becoming used for it, are also becoming highly popular. This is especially true of geo-location-based games such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Using these games, which are becoming very popular (and fast), businesses can leverage their ‘profiles’ and other advertising tools within the games to market themselves.

This geo-location marketing is currently the hottest, fastest-growing trend in mobile marketing. It’s simple to get involved with, costs little to utilize, and has a user base that is growing exponentially.

Any way you cut it, mobile is the future and, right now, has the least amount of competition for the most active (and interactive) users online. It’s expected that the money spent on mobile marketing will double every year for the next few years, getting into the tens of billions by 2015.

JAMES BURCHILL shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing. You can find out more at James’ website and you can subscribe to his J-List and get over 40 articles, reports and advice on Internet Marketing today.

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 Mark Zimmerman

Lean start-up: Not a mantraOver the last couple of years the “Lean Startup” movement has taken the start-up world by storm.   It’s rare now for me to meet with a web or mobile client who isn’t at least using the jargon; they are all building a minimum viable product, “getting out of the building” and are prepared to pivot.

As I get to know these founders and their businesses better I find that some of them have missed what I think is the key insight of the model. A start-up is a series of experiments.  Or, as Eric Reis more elegantly put it, “The ultimate goal of a lean startup is to identify where its vision intersects with what reality can accommodate.”

These founders have built a prototype, they are showing it to potential customers and they are prepared to change the prototype based on customer feedback.  What they haven’t done is design an experiment that will yield “validated learning“.  In order to achieve that they need to borrow from the scientific method and break their business idea into a series of hypotheses and experiments to test them.

One effective way to do this is to use Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas (a variant of the Business Model Canvas) to document a business hypothesis and then design experiments to test the assumptions in each box.

Until a start-up has a documented model to test, “Lean Startup” is more mantra than method: A bunch of tactics instead of a strategy.  Don’t get me wrong, getting outside the building and talking to customers is a good use of time for most founders, most of the time.   Talking to customers to test a key business model assumption is a great use of time.

Mark advises entrepreneurs in the information technology, communications and entertainment practice at MaRS. He specializes in B2B enterprise software, SaaS business models as well as security and privacy.

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 Tim Scott

We want to help you secure funding for your next idea or innovation, and help you push into new and exciting markets. So last post we started to count down the “Top 10 Things You Must Do To Secure Funding For Your Business”.

If you missed it, here’s a quick recap:

  • Number 10: Have a detailed Business Plan
  • Number 9: Be clear about your Financial Requirements
  • Number 8: Be able to articulate your ideas in an Elevator Pitch
  • Number 7: Present the strengths and weaknesses of your Management Team
  • Number 6: Define your Business Strategies

Let’s finish the Top 10 …

Number 5 What is your Debt Structure

Your debt structure depends on a number of variables, most importantly your own commitment to your plan. You should always be the first investor – your financial commitment to your idea is what every future investor looks for. Be engaged both personally and financially. Family and friends are typically the next stop when you’re looking for investment funds. Just be sure to treat them as you would any other investor – by providing them with clarity of purpose, detailed information, and a proper exit strategy so they can see how their money will be used and when they will see a return on their investment. The next level of investor is usually a bank or lending institution. Your last stop is with an Angel investor or a Venture Capital organization

Number 4 Prepare a realistic Financial Forecast

The Venture Capital organizations and lenders I’ve spoken with over the years say the single most disappointing element of any plan is that not enough critical thinking went into preparing the forecasts. So ask yourself, “How are our financials verified?” It’s easy to create a financial forecast based on a simple extrapolation of calculated market penetration – many people do that – but those who do are sorely disappointed when their plans don’t align with reality. Instead, make sure your roll-out strategy is consistent with realistic market uptake and a conservative cash flow. That will be more accurate and give you a better picture.

Number 3 Define your Exit Strategy

Simply put – how will your investors get their money back and how will you get out of this business. It sounds easy but in fact this is a difficult, time consuming and potentially painful exercise. The structure should take into account all investors, how each investment has been structured (straight investment to a note, convertible debenture, common class shares, preferred shares, etc.) as well as management ownership. All will have an impact on how an exit will, or could, work. Make sure you seek accounting and tax guidance and speak with experienced legal council to ensure the best results.

Number 2 Show the Path of Sustainable Growth

How are you going to feed the fire? What is your process of defining ongoing activities to ensure sustainable growth? Is your plan to grow organically or by partnering? What are the activities necessary to keep your product or innovation fresh?

And finally …

The Number 1 requirement that often makes or breaks funding success – Be Prepared!

Obvious, yes, but taking the time to work through Numbers 10 – 2 – to define your plan and your strategy will bring you much closer to success.

You may ask, “So if I follow all the steps above, will I always be successful in finding funding for my idea?” Maybe, maybe not. What you can be sure of is by following the guidelines above – you will have looked at your situation, your technology and your opportunities and come to a clear conclusion of real product-to-market potential. And keep in mind, just because one person or lending institution says No, does not mean you don’t have a great idea. Keep pursuing your dream, but follow the old Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”!

If you have any questions about developing your new product or innovation, give me a call at 905-273-3530 or email me at tim.scott@riccentre.com. I’m here to help you succeed!

The RIC Centre (Research, Innovation, Commercialization) is a non-profit organization that provides business and technical services to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to commercialize their innovation. Tim Scott is the RIC Centre’s Entrepreneur in Residence. In his capacity, he meets with early stage companies and advising them on moving their business models to the next level. RIC’s interests reside in the aerospace, advanced manufacturing, emerging technologies and life sciences sectors. Visit http://www.riccentre.com for more information.

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By Ingo Koenig

What does the agri-food sector produce? The obvious answer would be food. Well, this is not entirely true. About 40% of what the food sector produces is waste and with the bulk of it thrown out by the consumers – that sounds anything but lean. Throughout the value chain from field to belly approximately that amount ends in the trash can in Canada, the figures – if available – are similar for other developed countries.

Why? A lot of it has to do with our spoiled taste buds and visual preferences. Would we really buy the two-forked, crooked carrot or the lettuce that has a few brown corners? Or what about that yogurt in our fridge that has somehow managed to sneak into a corner where we almost forgot about it and now is dangerously close to code?

Some of it also has to do with the sometimes perverse incentives to overbuy on our weekly treks to the supermarket – if it’s Buy-One-Get-One-Free, we may as well, shouldn’t we?

Whether it’s consumers demanding ever more sanitized products from the industry, government bodies micro-regulating the shape and size of produce, or industry price wars that started this mess, we do not know. What we have learned is that there are creative ways in which to benefit from this overproduction of waste (and at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by composting or rotting food) from gleaning fields for produce eliminated from the value chain right at harvest, ‘dumpster diving’ for edibles at grocery stores, to using what can truly no longer be meant for human and animal consumption as feed stock in biogas plants.

Engaging with groceries and food producers before they throw out what they deem unsalable and redistributing it to those in need is what Toronto-based Second Harvest has been doing for over 25 years. With their seven trucks, the organization rescues produce, dairy, meat and bread that would have otherwise gone to waste from food outlets across the city and region and distributes it to food banks, meal programs and shelters. Last year was a record year for Second Harvest – 6.4 million pounds of food was rescued and delivered to those in need.

However, the observation that we consumers throw out food that need not go to waste also holds true for Second Harvest’s own clients. Koenig & Consultants is therefore supporting the organization in a pro bono consulting project in which we jointly look for ways to tackle this challenge and thereby increase the impact Second Harvest has on food waste reduction and providing healthy and nutritious meals to those unable to afford them otherwise.

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca


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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