The journey from a promising lab discovery to a successful market solution is full of challenges. Many researchers find their brilliant ideas stalled, never reaching the hands of the people who could benefit from them. This guide explores the common pitfalls and winning strategies for navigating the path from research to commercialization.

Understanding the roadblocks on the Innovation Highway

A 2020 study by Fini et al. identified three key reasons why brilliant ideas often get shelved:

  1. Market misalignment: Researchers tend to be deeply invested in the technical aspects of their innovation but lack a clear understanding of market needs and existing solutions.
  2. Inadequate business planning: Beyond research, the innovators tend to jump straight to product development without a solid business plan can lead to misaligned efforts and limited resources.
  3. Scaling challenges: The complexities of scaling up scientific discoveries for mass production and distribution can prove overwhelming for researchers accustomed to the controlled environment of the lab.

A roadmap for success

Fortunately, there are proven strategies that researchers can employ to overcome these challenges and bring their innovations to market.

Market analysis

Every successful commercialization journey begins with a thorough understanding of the market landscape. This involves:

  1. Identifying a market need:
  • What problem does your innovation solve?
  • Who says they are facing that problem?
  • Is there a large enough customer base for your solution?
  1. Analyzing existing solutions:
  • What are the current options available to address this need?
  • What are the gaps in the options available?
  1. Identifying target customers:
  • Who will benefit or use your innovation to solve existing problems? (Farmers, consumers, or industrial processors?)

Product Development & User-Centered Iteration

Fini et al. (2020) emphasize the importance of iterative product development i.e.  constantly refining your innovation based on user feedback. Initial user trials help researchers understand how well their product aligns with real-world needs. By incorporating user feedback, researchers can ensure their solution offers a compelling value proposition and addresses the specific challenges faced by their target market.

Strategic marketing

Once your product is ready, a well-designed marketing strategy is crucial to reach your target audience.

  1. Educational outreach: Engage with potential users through workshops, demonstrations, and educational materials that explain the benefits of your innovation.
  2. Targeted marketing: Develop targeted messaging for different audience segments, highlighting the unique advantages your solution offers to each group, such as processors or farmers.

Building a sustainable business model

A well-defined business model ensures your innovation can achieve long-term financial viability. It should encompass:

  1. Distribution strategy:
  • How will your product reach its target market?
  • Leveraging existing distribution networks can be a cost-effective approach.
  1. Pricing strategy:
  • Find an attractive price point to customers while ensuring your business remains profitable.
  1. Revenue streams:
  • Develop multiple revenue streams, such as direct sales, licensing agreements, or partnerships with established companies.

Scaling up for long-term success

Scalability is essential for turning your research into a widespread solution. Consider:

  1. Scaling production: Develop a plan to meet growing demand for your product, both domestically and internationally.
  2. Strategic partnerships: Collaborate with companies and organizations that can provide resources and expertise to expand your market reach.
  3. Investment and fundraising: Securing funding is crucial for scaling up your innovation. Here are some potential sources of investment:
  • Grants: Government agencies and private foundations offer grants to support research and development in specific sectors.
  • Angel Investors: These are wealthy individuals who invest in early-stage ventures.
  • Venture Capitalists: VC firms invest in high-growth companies with the potential for significant returns.
  • Debt Financing: Banks and other lenders can provide loans to fund your operations and expansion.

Researchers can secure the resources needed to bring their innovations to a global market by exploring these funding options and crafting a compelling investment pitch.


The transition from research to a commercially successful product requires a combination of scientific expertise, business acumen, and a willingness to adapt. By understanding the challenges, following a strategic roadmap, and embracing an entrepreneurial mindset, researchers can bridge the gap between the lab bench and the market, transforming their discoveries into solutions that benefit the world.