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Writing Effective PoC Applications

In this workshop, Dr. Jeff Skinner explains how to take a structured approach to thinking through how a research team can devise a proof-of-concept ‘strategy’.

Date: 12 September 2016
Time: 9:00 - 17:00
Venue: Weicker Building - Room B001

The ideal outcome of a Proof-of-Concept project is a technology that is ready for further external – probably private – investment of one kind or another. This pre-supposes that there are good reasons why such an investors wouldn’t invest at the current stage – but might be willing to if certain risks could be removed and potential be demonstrated by the founding team. 

This workshop takes a structured approach to thinking through how a research team can devise a proof-of-concept ‘strategy’ that leads to action. We start by understanding the elements of a commercial strategy for any technology and then probe what generally worries investors about such propositions. These two strands then come together as we discuss the commercial development of an early-stage medical device, asking the same questions that any investor would ask of your projects – what are they trying to achieve and what ‘concepts’ do I need them to 'prove' before a profit-seeking investor would be interested.

Session 1: Developing a Commercial Strategy

In this session we take the example of an early-stage material technology and think through how we develop define a commercial strategy to take it forward. The potential number of applications and types of user are vast and this forces us (as it should you) to focus down on one or two – which immediately results in a much better understanding of the assumptions we’re making about eventual commercial success and who it is that will invest ‘post PoC’. By the end of the session we will have developed a framework for creating a focused ‘Plan A’ commercial ‘hypothesis’  for any technology – from which results a clear pathway (set of actions) to inform a poC application.

Session 2: The mind of an investor

We now take the example of another technology to explore the most common worries that any investor ‘feels’ when assessing a business plan. It turns out that there are relatively categories of risk and most are fairly obvious. One we have that understanding we can then apply the same framework to exploring our own commercialisation plans (as developed in the first session) and figure out what is likely to worry investors about our those plans. It then becomes much easier to seek good feedback from potential investors to assess which risks are the most potent – and therefore which should be addressed in a PoC project.

Session 3: Using early stage funds to build an investment-ready technology 

In this session (after lunch) we use the two frameworks developed in the first two sessions to ask how a biomedical scientist should best spend scarce early-stage funds to develop a medical device to the point at which an external investor (independent or corporate) would be happy to invest further. The scientist has suggested a huge range of activities all of which need doing at some point. The question is which of these adds the greatest value. This discussion raises the question of where PoC funds fit in the overall funding strategy for a new technology.