You will need to conduct some market research on the following topics or hire someone to do it for you. Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) at universities often help their employees and students with this research since they want to know if it’s worth investing time and resources in your idea. Entrepreneurship support centers at universities and in larger communities also offer guidance.
Alternative Product or Service Solutions
Gather information on products or services that could serve as a substitute for yours. How does your proposed product or service compare? For example, how does it compare in terms of mortality, morbidity, or consumption of other healthcare resources?
Gather information on the industry. Include the risks and obstacles specific to this particular industry.
Market and Interest (Customer Discovery)
Gather information on the product–market fit. Get to know potential customers and their interest in the product.
- Know your customer.
- How large is the market? Is it large enough to sustain the business?
- Learn the value proposition, which includes. . .
- The customer’s need or problem.
- What your product or service offers—its benefits.
- How those benefits solve the customer’s need or problem.
- Why your solution and delivery is the preferred one.
- What are the incentives for the adoption of your product or service? Understand the potential customers’ pain points, which would lead them to use your product or service. These may be economic, patient quality of life, ability to deliver care, etc.
Gather information on companies that could be your suppliers. Describe categories of supplies, challenges involved, and solutions. For example, is there a critical supply with limited alternatives? Some researchers develop some of the supplies they need and make extra to market to other researchers as a source of revenue.
Gather information on current and potential competitors. How much of the potential market do they have? What are your differences? There is always some competition, direct or indirect, even if it is just the inertia of doing business as usual. The internet is a good place to start.
Research on competitors includes making sure that you are not blocked by existing patents. This is different from filing for a patent, which protects you from having others use your idea. Searching for existing patents that your idea might infringe upon is called a freedom-to-operate (FTO) search.
If informal, initial research is promising, you can hire someone, such as a patent attorney, to make sure your search is thorough before committing large amounts of money or effort.
Learn regulatory requirements unique to your area of life sciences, such as healthcare/pharmaceuticals, genetic engineering, bioinformatics, or food innovations (Compliance Online, 2021). Learn the likely time and costs involved in meeting these requirements. Courses are available online (example course – Biotechnology Regulatory Compliance). Three agencies oversee many of these regulations:
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Rules and Regulations
- US Drug Administration (USDA) Rules and Regulations – Animal and Plant Health (USDA APHIS)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulations
Cochran W. What Is Industry Value Chain Analysis? Market Research Blog. October 30, 2019.
Compliance Online. Biotechnology Regulatory Compliance Best Practices. Compliance Online. 2021.
Entrepreneur Media Staff. The Best Ways to Do Market Research for Your Business Plan. Entrepreneur. January 20, 2015.
University Lab Partners. The Importance of Market Research in Biotech and Medtech Startups. University Lab Partners. December 11, 2020.
Resources on Market Research
Market Research and Competitive Analysis – US Small Business Administration
25 Useful Market Research Resources to Check Out – Market Research Blog by Sara Schmidt. December 5, 2018. MarketResearch.com.
How to Use the Customer Discovery Process [Complete Guide] – Blog by Taras T. for Geniusee (software product development site). September 10, 2021.
Health Focused Customer Discovery – Blog by ULP University Lab Partners. October 2, 2020.