TRANSLATE researchers Dr. Ievgen Nedrygailov and Dr. Scott Monaghan participated in the EIC Tech to Market (T2M) Venture Building Programme, which supports innovators in transitioning their projects from the lab to the market. The EIC T2M programme specifically targets deep-tech innovative researchers funded under the EIC Pathfinder and Transition initiatives who have entrepreneurial aspirations.
During their participation, Ievgen and Scott represented TRANSLATE and showcased the market potential of the TRANSLATE technology. Their efforts were met with success, as the project was selected to progress to the next phase — the EIC Tech to Market Entrepreneurship Programme. This phase provides comprehensive support to researchers throughout their entrepreneurial journey, guiding them towards the maturation of their innovative projects.
Q: What, from your perspective, were the advantages of participating in the EIC T2M Venture Building Programme?
As a researcher, the primary output of our work is academic publications, which contribute to knowledge production. However, as scientists aiming to create real-world impact and drive positive change, we understand that publications alone are not sufficient. We aspire to develop practical devices or products that people can use and benefit from. This objective presents challenges as we must not only know how to create such innovations but also understand the needs and preferences of users.
Participating in the EIC Tech to Market Programme provided a valuable opportunity to engage with industry leaders and investors who possess deep insights into user needs. It was an enlightening experience to learn their thoughts on our research and receive feedback from individuals who may potentially utilise the devices we develop. This feedback was particularly valuable since it came from individuals who were not biased by working closely with us. They provided insights on how to enhance and make my research more appealing to end users.
By participating in such programmes, we gain direct knowledge from device users. Their perspectives and expectations differ from those of colleagues who are aware of all the advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the needs and desires of regular consumers, who simply seek functional and user-friendly products, allows us to align our research to truly serve them.
Q: What did you think of the experts’ comments during the interactions? Did you agree or disagree? Was it helpful or not what you expected?
The feedback and questions from the experts proved immensely helpful. The questions posed during the various sessions were significantly different from those typically encountered at research conferences or in internal discussions with fellow researchers. Researchers often focus on experimental methodologies, data analysis, and ensuring reliable results. However, the experts’ questions delved into the practical use of the device, comparing its advantages and disadvantages to existing or emerging technologies.
I found their perspectives enlightening since these aspects are not typically at the forefront of our experimental planning or device design considerations. The feedback received provided valuable insights into understanding real-world needs. Moreover, the timing of these interactions was advantageous as they occurred during the proof-of-concept phase, before the device’s physical realisation. Now, as we enter the device design phase and explore potential applications, we can incorporate the experts’ feedback to make informed decisions.
The experts’ questions prompted us to explore various applications for the device, such as household lighting or mobile phone charging. Their inputs will guide our thinking about the device’s future applications and related considerations.
Q: Do you have a clear understanding of the next steps for the TRANSLATE device after engaging with the experts and their questions about its applicability? What do you anticipate as the next decision-making process for the device in the innovation sector?
Absolutely, the engagement with the experts and their questions regarding the device’s applicability provided valuable insights and a clear roadmap for the next steps for the TRANSLATE project. We recently finished the second year of the project, with various teams working on different aspects, including electrolyte materials, electrodes, membranes, and power management for the device. The next critical step is to integrate these components into a cohesive device. We plan to combine the contributions of various teams to create the final device.
Based on discussions with investors and reviewers, we now possess invaluable guidelines and insights that will inform the device’s design parameters. Considerations such as device size, output voltage, output current, and charging/discharging durations will be addressed, incorporating the feedback received during these interactions.
This phase marks a significant milestone, consolidating all research efforts into a tangible device. The input from experts and investors guides our decision-making process, ensuring the final device meets end-user requirements and aligns with industry expectations.
Q: Throughout your experience, was there any particular aspect that stood out as the highlight? Is there something you would like to emphasize as exceptionally valuable?
Indeed, there was a standout aspect that I consider the highlight of the entire experience. It was the remarkable efficiency with which we prepared for our participation in the event. Despite having only a week’s notice, we successfully addressed all the questions and requirements provided by the organisers.
Working diligently, we crafted a concise, yet informative presentation within the constraints of a five-slide format and five-minute time limit. Our effort in presenting our work clearly and convincingly paid off when we were selected for the next phase—the EIC T2M Entrepreneurship Programme.
The fact that we were able to deliver a concise and compelling presentation demonstrates our clarity of vision and the potential impact of our work. It was gratifying to see that our efforts resonated with the experts and evaluators, confirming the promise of our research in developing new technologies.
Q: Looking back at your experience, was there anything that could have enhanced your representation of TRANSLATE to the committee? This could be related to the internal project or aspects of the overall experience.
There is an aspect that I believe would have enhanced my representation of TRANSLATE to the committee, which is access to basic information on marketing and transitioning research to the market. While I anticipate receiving such guidance through the EIC Tech to Market Programme, having this knowledge earlier would have been advantageous.
During the preparation for the presentation, we received a questionnaire from programme managers, which contained a wealth of information that was previously unknown to me. It introduced various parameters and values commonly discussed in commercial and industrial applications. Concepts such as payback time and cost of ownership were crucial considerations raised by investors.
As researchers, we often lack formal training in marketing management and may be unfamiliar with the language and parameters important in the business realm. Consequently, I devoted significant time to self-guided research, searching for papers on marketing and product management to grasp the language and understand the essential factors. This allowed me to respond confidently to investor questions and present myself as well-informed.
However, having access to this vital knowledge earlier would have reduced the need for extensive self-guided research and provided a stronger foundation for addressing marketing-related inquiries. It would have facilitated a seamless integration of research and market perspectives, enabling a clearer and more impactful representation of TRANSLATE to the committee.