Innovation Challenge Application Tips

Thinking about entering the qutbluebox Innovation Challenge? To give you the best chance of being selected as a finalist in the Challenge, we’ve put together some tips to help make the process easier for you.

What does it take to be selected as a finalist?

Each finalist in the qutbluebox Innovation Challenge will have two things in common: an innovation with commercial potential, and an entrepreneurial mindset.

What type of innovation are the judges looking for?

The judging panel don’t have any guidelines to the type of innovation other than it must be commercially-relevant new to world. You can enter a novel product, process or service, or business model. However, your innovation must be more than just an idea. You need to spend some time assessing your idea and demonstrate that there is a reasonable market for your innovation and that you have a realistic vision for commercially developing your innovation.

What information do the judges want about my innovation?

You really need to ‘sell’ your innovation. Provide the judges with enough information so that they understand what your innovation is as well as its value. When explaining your innovation, keep your description free of jargon and if possible technical terms.

Why do you want to know what problem/solution the innovation is addressing?

The commercial value of your innovation is largely dependent on the issue/problem/gap in the market your innovation will address. So clearly explain why it is significant and why it should be taken to market.

How much information do you need about the market?

At a minimum, you need to explain who will benefit and therefore potentially “buy” your innovation. These are the end-users or customers.
Once you understand your customer-base you can start profiling the potential market size and value. Consider also the geographical location of your market. If possible, put some figures and values to your market estimates. If relevant, include demographic information about your customers.

What else is already in the marketplace addressing this issue? Who are your potential competitors? It may help to explain the current market for your competitors.

Money, resources & development

The three questions about money, resources and development are to help the judges understand what needs to be done to develop your innovation to the point where it is a viable product. Consider time frames, resources (financial, physical and human), and barriers to entry. Explain where your innovation is at in this development process and the impact winning the Challenge would have in progressing it to the next stage.

When addressing the resources questions, it’s important to ‘sell’ yourself and your team / company if you have one. No one invests in an innovation unless the individual or team behind it has the skill, zeal and determination required to take the innovation to market. The quality of your application form should reflect your own qualities.

Applications close on Friday 15 August so enter now before you miss out!

From the keyboard of our 2014 BIO Fellow – San Diego

Bluebox funded Associate Professor Derek Richard to attend Bio in San Diego this year. Here is his blog entry of his experience.

Bio 2014 in San Diego was my first Bio and I must admit was a real eye opener. As a cancer biologist my primary concerns have been the next publication and the next grant, however about a year back I noticed some of my results could potentially be translated into anticancer drugs. Its difficult for traditionally trained scientists to know what to do with these discoveries and in particular who funds their translation into a product and what do investors need before they will fund. Even though I am a scientist, I quickly found myself attending the business and investment talks. I now know what an “exit plan is” I know what the “valley of death” is and most importantly I sat through talks where speakers talked about their solution to these issues. Although there were many interesting talks and interactions with industry, one talk and one industry interaction really made an impression on me. The first was a talk by MRC-T (Medical Research Council- Technology). The MRC is the UK governments primary funding agency to medical research, essentially it is our NHMRC. A number of years back MRC-T realised that great research was not making it from the universities to industry because there is this gap in funding between what traditional grants will fund and what industry wants, the so called “valley of death”. MRC-T was set up as a not for profit charity and its objective was to fund promising research. Has it worked? Yes without a doubt, MRC-T has generated around $1bn in profits for British Universities, it has brought 12 drugs to market, negotiated 400 commercial licences and humanised 55 antibodies. MRC-T is no longer funded by the government but makes $113m profit per year that it re-invests. The second big impact of my Bio experience was a visit to the Jansen Labs, a visit kindly organised by our own Prof Zee Upton. From the tour the Jansen labs were just standard wet labs, same white benches and equipment, however, it was not the building that was special, it was the concept. These labs are incubator units that Jansen uses to bring in ideas, to propagate these ideas, nurture the entrepreneurs and then to go our and find investors to bring these ideas into reality. For $1,000 per month (US) you get a lab, access several million $ worth of equipment, an office, all the administration support you need, a professional looking environment and people who seem to want you to do well, and when your product is ready, they will go out and find investors or will help you exit with the maximum return. I don’t know what I expected to achieve from Bio, but I can tell you it has changed my thinking and opened my eyes to our potential.

Derek Richard.