Talking to investors

Technologies developed in Academia usually follow two paths towards commercialisation: (i) they get licenced to an established company or (ii) they are the basis of a spinout company. In the second case the spinout is usually initially led by the academic researchers, and it becomes critical quickly to recruit management expertise, funding and market knowledge.

We have been figuring out the opportunity to spinout the bone regeneration technologies developed in our labs in Glasgow. We’ve had interactions with a few different professionals working in one way or another in the biomedical market, and we have seen an interesting and valuable side of the conversation when talking with potential investors.

The interaction of investors and the spinout team can be not only about presenting a novel technology and the plans to make it to market. It’s also a chance to learn from them, learn what they know about the target market of the spinout. Most investors are specialised and know well the market they operate. We can then use the information gathered to better adapt ongoing or future R&D plans towards applications with more chances of success.

For instance, in the lab in Glasgow we have discussed with investors our planned bone grafting applications and pre-clinical models and have as a consequence looked into clinical indications where our technologies can make a more significant improvement, compared to current available treatments. Our techs work very well in the animal models that we have carried out so far, but approved clinical products also work well in those models. The comparable clinical outcomes, even with a somewhat cheaper price, may make it difficult for the clinician and health provider to risk a change. In conclusion, we are planning development for indications and relevant pre-clinical models that address bigger challenges in terms of clinical outcomes, indications with available products in the market providing a less satisfactory solution.

As a way to start this kind of conversation the spinout team can ask about the type of products and techs that are getting investment in the field. Companies to look at that we can study to learn what they are doing right? What are the segments in the market, the end-users, that are drawing attention. For instance, in the biomedical field, we can ask about the indications that are of their interest. Our technologies in Glasgow are primarily focused on bone regeneration so we want to learn about the orthopaedic applications that could use our technologies.

We can also ask investors about feedback on our commercialisation strategy, check with them if the business model we have devised is the one that makes more sense in the current market, and discuss the timing of spinout regarding ongoing R&D, especially if there is a big gap and risks between where the technology is at the moment and where it needs to be before it is commercialised. This is particularly relevant in the biomedical field, where regulatory issues are very important and can take a long time and large investments and be unsuccessful nevertheless.