Friday, January 9, 2009

Director’s Take: TEEX can help get your product on the market

The TEEX Product Development Center (PDC): There are many models that have been developed over the years that prescribe a process one must undertake to convert research into a commercial product. These processes are usually multi-step road maps that help define what is required to be successful. However, the focus of the TEEX PDC is on the smaller company or the individual entrepreneur who just needs some help in getting past the next level of large hurdles. As a result, TEEX has a simplified approach that breaks these processes into four common needs: good technology, a champion (usually an entrepreneur), the ability to convert this technology into something tangible, and money. These needs are not independent and should be integrated into a dynamic plan.

The TEEX PDC was established to focus on the third need: the conversion of technology into something tangible and the integration of a business plan. Our experience indicates that this is one of the major gaps in the successful path to commercialization. TEEX is a natural catalyst in this respect, leveraging internal capabilities, the capabilities of The Texas A&M University System, and our associated networks. These assets allow us access to world-class facilities and equipment and intellectual expertise in the form of myriad subject-matter experts.

A little background information: A few years ago when we were working with NASA to help in the commercialization of its space-based research, we became strongly involved with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This program provides seed funds for small, high-technology businesses to conduct innovative research that could result in new commercial products.

One of these businesses was a very small Texas company that “spun-out” from a larger medical device manufacturer. The CEO of the company had received an SBIR contract to investigate better methods for the delivery of medications spawned by the anthrax incidents after 9/11, as well as medications to treat AIDS patients. TEEX worked with this CEO and the Athens (Texas) Biomedical Manufacturing Center on the development of a retractable and single-dose injection system. As a result, a viable product was launched and has been very successful in the marketplace.

An idea is born: The success of the product and work TEEX did to contribute to the product’s success started us on a path to determine if we could become more proactive in the area of product development.

The state of Texas has some of the finest research occurring within its world-class universities, federal laboratories and private sector. TEEX is not a research institution; rather TEEX focuses on applying this research to foster economic opportunity for the citizens of Texas. This challenging process is called technology commercialization and can cause some entrepreneurs to seek help any place they can find it. At TEEX, our intent is to provide this assistance at the local level, thereby encouraging the development of products within Texas. The results are new job opportunities while helping our companies compete globally.

Let us help your business: For further information on how TEEX can help get your product on the market, please visit the TEEX PDC Website (
www.teex.org/pdc) or contact Jeff Bolich at (979) 458-0857 or jeff.bolich@teexmail.tamu.edu.

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