Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Products


Ken Haven

December 23, 2017

There is a tremendous amount of innovation taking place in the medical/laboratory instrument market segment over the past several years, ranging from desktop laboratory instruments to remote health monitoring devices to lower cost/less invasive diagnostic tools.

We see many of these developments coming from scientists/engineers/researchers who have developed the technology, and now want to productize it to manufacture. They’ve sometimes built a prototype which can demonstrate the overall concept, and utilize it to raise funding, attract potential partners (ie, particularly those who will invest), etc.. They often have little if any product development experience, and are not prepared for the cost, time, and effort involved in taking a concept from the lab into production. By developing a solid understanding and plan around this transition, they will not only stand a better chance for success, but will also appear more credible when talking to potential investors.

While developing a comprehensive plan to get from the lab to production would take longer to outline than we have space for here, we wanted to share some key elements to look at when developing a plan(note: this is not a complete list, but it is a good start):

First, have a good understanding of the use cases for the technology/product – this includes:

Next, it’s important to have an understanding of how robust the technology you’ve developed is, and what kind of testing (if any) has been done to assess this. For example, if you’ve developed a technology to screen for a certain chemical, disease, etc., understanding how it performs over a variety of conditions/variations could have a significant impact not only on the design of the product itself, but also the use cases, manufacturing, packaging, etc.. Temperature may need to be controlled in a very tight range, necessitating a thermal management system of some sort. Humidity, light, vibration, etc. may also play a role in how the system performs.

Other things to consider:

Product development firms (such as Acorn) can help you work thru these steps, which eventually can become part of a product requirements document. A firm that has in depth experience in designing for manufacturability can help you determine specific areas that need to be addressed in transitioning from technology to product, along with design tradeoffs that are likely needed in order to achieve your product goals.

About the author

Ken Haven has been CEO of Acorn Product Development since the company’s founding in 1993. Ken has more than 25 years of product development experience including technical leadership roles with NeXT Computer, Attain, Inc., and Hewlett-Packard. He holds MS and BS degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.