What makes a good researcher? It is a simple yet complex question that can help you fully understand innovation from ideation to commercialization. Researchers and innovators in Africa have struggled through the whole process, and the need to fully understand the innovation process might be why this is the case.

There are 4 major steps that work symbiotically to build a good product for the market or generate an idea that can be commercialized. These stages are;

Identifying an idea: Good research should understand the market needs to develop a good idea that can generate a unique innovation that serves this need. Being empathetic is key in this stage because one needs to be aware of the requirements of his target market system. 

Proof of concept: The research should have a workable idea that can be converted into a prototype. The design should give stakeholders a clear image of potential benefits, risks, if any, and costs associated with the prototype. Here, the researcher can also develop and generate improving mechanisms for his idea or prototype.

Piloting stage: This is the production stage, where the researcher develops samples to test the market and receive feedback. In this stage, the researcher also needs to secure key investments to set up a production facility if one still needs to be created.

Scaling: The researcher should develop business skills to be aware of the requirements of a business system to facilitate scaling. 

Understanding this process is crucial because the innovator’s journey is full of highs and lows. However, obstacles are related to what the market lacks, so understanding one’s target market might be useful in tackling any oncoming obstacles.

Before delving into the obstacles one is likely to face as a researcher, one should understand that failure is part of the process, and you can only learn from your mistakes. The biggest hurdle in an innovator’s journey is that most ideas are too dependent on available resources such as funding. As a researcher, you should learn from your mistakes; if the idea is not workable, pick a different one.

Scaling your facility requires investment failure, to which commercialization of the research will not be a success. As highlighted in the last stage of the ideation to commercialization process, a good researcher should understand the business system or bring in a co-founder with business skills.

Inaccessible suitable infrastructure is also a hindrance to developing an idea to commercialization. There are many solutions to this, including government systems that can work in favour of innovators. Such include innovation hubs.While obstacles exist for researchers, there are also many opportunities that African researchers can leverage.

Currently, a lot of focus is now being directed to the whole process from research to commercialization. Government institutions and policies are being set up to facilitate researchers. This is a good space that one can take advantage of to aid in their idea commercialization process. This has also helped solve the issue of inaccessible infrastructure for the researchers because these government institutions and innovation hubs exist to fill this gap.

To neutralize the lack of funding for many researchers, venture capitals now exist to facilitate innovations financially. This is a big opportunity for the many innovators who have hit a wall in commercializing their ideas.

For a researcher to be successful, personality and perseverance are key. Your attitude towards your project, how much effort you put into it and what you are willing to do to see it succeed will determine if the research will be successful and penetrate the market. This is all but a raindrop in the ocean if there is no support from the ecosystem, such as business incubators, especially in scaling.

Author: James David