Innovators learn how to bring an idea to market

By: Stephanie Robey

On January 29, the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) partnered with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) to bring information about critical commercialization resources to hopeful innovators and entrepreneurs. The workshop, From Ideas to Products: Where to Start, Who to Ask, How to De-risk, answered many questions on the minds of technology developers.

Margaret Ramey, CTC Director, said, “We are lucky to have such a supportive and innovative partner as the MCW Office of Technology Development. This collaboration is bringing commercialization knowledge, support and resources to Milwaukee technologists that they otherwise may not have been able to locate.” 

The event began with a presentation from Rob Baranowski, MS, JD, a Technology Consultant at CTC. He helped the eager audience of approximately 70 attendees understand that a market-driven idea should solve a problem, be sizable and scalable, and be fundable. He went on to explain the three phases of how to take an innovation from a good idea to a business idea: identify need, identify market and find funding.

Rob shared details on how lean start-up models work, important risks to consider and valuable information on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Transfer Technology (STTR) funding sources. He explained how the CTC provides one-on-one consulting and presentation review services for the SBIR grant and other micro-grants offered by CTC.

Next, a panel of experts answered questions from moderator Kevin Boggs, MBA, PhD, Director of Office of Technology Development, MCW. When asked what they wish they had known sooner, two of the panelists offered similar suggestions. Lindsey Roddy, PhD, Founder and CEO, Roddy Medical and Academic Lead for her NSF I-Corps team, mentioned the importance of building connections and finding the right people because one entrepreneur does not need to know everything and do it all alone. Nikki Johnston, PhD, Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology & Communication Sciences and Microbiology & Immunology, MCW and co-founder and CSO of N-Zyme Biomedical Inc, echoed the need to find the right people, especially a business partner and strategic advisors.

Another panelist, Ilya Avdeev, PhD,  who wears many professional hats also offered tips to the crowd of innovators who posed questions themselves as well. Ilya is Associate Director/Director of Innovation at the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, UWM; Founder and Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Design Laboratory; and Co-Founder and Executive Director of UWM Student Startup Challenge. He said, “Our success rate increased by keeping roles and priorities of our team well defined. Teams will need to change as projects change.”

Organizers of the event offered possible next steps for attendees as well as an invitation to another upcoming free event they are hosting. The FDA Regulations webinar occurs February 13 at 12:00PM. Learn about the FDA’s review and research activities, its product quality and safety responsibilities, strategy considerations for start-up companies and more.

Next steps:

  1. Learn about CTC micro-grant programs.
  2. Request a one-on-one CTC counseling session.