COMS2009: How to make things work

Kristin: The recurring theme of the conference is the challenges and solutions for making things work – essentially how do you get micro and nano technologies to market through effective applications serving a market need.

Dirk Ortloff from Process Relations (edit: Note the company is Process Relations) presented on the process development challenges in difficult economic times. Everything is complex – new processes, often many changes to specifications, lots of data, plus time to market is shortened and budgets are tight. Plus there are more regulatory requirements. And importantly, how can you move away from the grind and onto creative work? Dirk suggests four steps to improved development efficiency that can be enabled through specific software tools: to fully utilise knowledge, to learn in different ways (eg virtual prototyping), to gain more information and knowledge through experimentation and to effectively transfer knowledge into production at volume. Don’t just gather information – free your time to be thoughtful and creative to get a better process and/or product.

JB Tuttle is doing his MBA at the University of New Mexico. As part of the entrepreneurial program, JB developed a business plan which expanded and won some business awards. The product he’s working on is the ‘MicroHound’ – a handheld vapour trace detection system for cargo screening, ports fo entry and border security applications. Out of the market research, they found that the Science & Technology Directorate has an gate of entry type role for security devices, but the market need is there. The MicroHound is enabled through 12 patents developed by Sandia National Laboratories. So he’s got a product at the right level of technology development, but how to you get it to market? And how do you get across the ‘valley of death’. One solution is be flexible enough to alter products for targeted market research – not just asking people what they want, but also testing it with them (even if it means taking your technology development back one stage). JB is now working n the next stage of the commercialisation process.

Some good insights here for the way approach the technology transfer process with CleanFutures.

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