I am always more optimistic than needed. I look for reasons to do something than not do something. And It’s fabulous to see the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser under the leadership of Dr. VijayRaghavan give impetus and agency to Technology Transfer and commercialisation of innovation. Why is this work important and why does it entail?
There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who see a problem and crib, those who see a problem and take it as an opportunity to improve things. The latter make our world a better place. They are passionate. They are aware yet curious. They are constantly looking for answers to things that don’t exist. They find solutions that help us move ahead. They are the innovators. The country today understands that if you have a good innovation the best way to introduce it in the market is kick start your own start up! But we know start ups are hard to build and grow. To start is easy. To sustain is tough. From finding a product market fit, to building a team that grows with the growing start up, to building a scalable business model or develop a cookie cutter approach that can help quickly replicate and alas bring the company to the elusive profitability stage. Having spent my career building my own Start Up and working for one of India’s most loved Unicorns, I have met one too many passionate folks who are perfect CTOs but struggle to raise capital or network to sell their solutions. The innovators are not afraid to fail when looking for solutions but many of these innovator are risk averse when it comes to business. Like Dr. HK Mittal, Dept of Science and technology said, “it’s 10% about the technology and 90% about the business model!”
The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser understands this and hence instituted a new program called AGNIi to help innovators find the commercial partner, distributor, licensor, manufacturer to help take that idea out in the market. While a start up and funder may focus on the team and the business model, AGNIi steps in a little earlier when the innovator is making a decision if they would like to set up a company or just license the patent. A real innovator has one too many solutions under their belt, some of these are features in products, some are too nascent to be commercialised and then they come up with one that could be the start up with a pot of gold. But only because a particular patent may not have commercial value immediately, does not mean it should not be pursued.
We have innovators – young folks with stars in their eyes, their 3rd or 4th prototype and a hope that they will raise money. But when you break down the Bill of Material and add other expenses for marketing, distribution or customer support, things just don’t add up. An early anchor customer, white labelling, licensing to another young start up which maybe a one product company but has a strong sales focussed CEO. These could be alternate options to raising capital and going the whole hog themselves. In many cases we have seen that some of these options were far better than raising angel or VC capital.
We have innovators who have the comfort of a salary and institutional structure. My mentor Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala is one of them. He never stepped out to set up his own single company but inspired many and helped incubate 180 start ups.
At AGNii we work with the innovator to help find answers to non-technical problems such as:
- Should the innovator license or set up their own start up?
- How should a technology be valued?
- Where can the innovator find a good manufacturing, distribution or licensing partner?
The match making service is not simple, but we try our best to help make the connects that can bring these innovative ideas to the market. If you are interested to license out new technologies for your business, check out the ever expanding repository on agnii.gov.in. If you are looking to bring your innovative idea to the market, list your technology with us.