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How to orientate your R&D projects using Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence is one of those areas that has an enormous impact on innovation. Those who know us have heard us say this many times, and now we want to explain to you the importance of Competitive Intelligence in the development of an R&D project. 

How to orientate your R&D projects using Competitive Intelligence

R&D projects usually have a duration of several years and are carried out within an R&D plan framework and reflected in a Technology Roadmap. Competitive Intelligence can be key to the R&D strategy (as you saw in our article on the benefits of CI for the Roadmap), but can also be an aid to a specific project. Let’s see how.

As we have said, an R&D project can have a long duration, which can be from 1 year up to 4 or 5. Parallel to the development of the project, the state-of-the-art may also be evolving which could leave our developments obsolete. For this reason, Competitive Intelligence is a key tool for the correct orientation of R&D projects, not only at their start but also during their development. When an R&D project is financed by a public program, we must guarantee the innovative character of the project to the institution, for which we usually carry out a prior state-of-the-art study. We must also carry out operating forecasts, while taking into consideration the target market volume and the share that we intend to obtain. In these cases, knowing the competition and a competitive advantage that our product offers is critical.

But once the project is launched, we cannot continue to rely on this initial state-of-the-art. The state-of-the-art carried out before the start of the project is no more than a snapshot of the situation at that time, but this situation can drastically change in a few months. For this reason, keeping up-to-date on how it is evolving is essential in ensuring that our developments are going to be competitive and that we will be able to exploit them (in order to be able to obtain an economic benefit from them).

For this, we must consider the following aspects:

  • Parallel to our project, it is likely that other projects with similar content are being carried out, some exploring similar technologies and others working on other alternative technologies. This is where one of the main failures usually occurs: only similar technologies are considered against which our solution is most competitive, but  the alternatives are forgotten. Developments that apparently do not compete with our solution can end up offering a competitive advantage in terms of price, quality and reliability. For this, the spectrum of technologies to monitor must be wider than that strictly related to our project.
  • A good way of achieving this is not only to monitor projects, but also to look at entities (Technology Centres, Universities and R&D units) and to see which projects they are taking part in, with which partners, what objectives they are pursuing, etc.
  • Another good way of anticipating potential innovations that affect our development is to monitor scientific articles and doctoral theses. These types of documents contain early information that will likely end up reflected in a type of product or service.
  • Finally, do not forget to monitor intellectual property. We must be sure that patent requests are not made (and even less are published) that directly affect our future product or in that in some way could restrict its sale. There are more than a few cases where competitive developments have fallen by the wayside due to formalities related to published patents.

If we take all this into account, we can have greater peace of mind (although we can never be 100% sure) with our project. Even so, neither should we forget one of the development keys of an R&D project: the carrying out of a serious assessment on the possibilities of protecting our developments by means of patents or utility models. This is the only way we can be sure that we will be able to exploit our products and recover the investment made in addition to obtaining economic benefits.

As you can see, many of the tasks detailed above are already considered in a Competitive Intelligence System; therefore, if we continue to systematically carry out this type of monitoring, we will have up-to-date information on the state-of-the-art and the intellectual property related to our key technologies.

If you belong to an innovative organisation that regularly participates in R&D projects, contact us and we will tell you how INNGUMA can help you to correctly orientate your projects and to properly exploit the results. Furthermore, you can try out the INNGUMA professional software free by requesting a demo.