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From Research to Development
To successfully transition scientific and technological breakthroughs from research to development — to eventual manufacturing and delivery — several changes in emphasis and organization must take place. The primary shift in focus is from technology to customer needs. But several secondary shifts are also necessary: from proof-of-concept to design-for-manufacturing; from concept-centric to cost-attentive; from test-focussed to team-oriented.

The goal is to transition from a technology readiness level of 1, 2, or 3 — where the principles have been identified and proven — to a TRL of 7, 8, or 9 — system completion and deployment. At each stage of the development, a different mix of skills is required, but the development process is not discrete (except as a heuristic framework) — it's a continuous process.

Unfortunately, there's no magic shortcut, but there are principles and practices that streamline the process. It requires a global perspective, a shift in approach that recognizes the importance of every development phase, and incorporates planning for later phases into the current phase. That in turn requires understanding of the fundamental science, market forces, and customer needs, among other disciplines.

Somewhat non-intuitively, perhaps the most important aspect is an attitude adjustment: a recognition that every part of the process is not just important, but essential.

Smaller companies usually have a high degree of expertise in a few of the steps above, but even larger companies may be lacking expertise in technologies out of their core disciplines. And even mature organizations that have expertise in each of these areas run into difficulties when transitioning from one stage to the next.

Even in situations where stakeholders are aware of the need to consider customer needs early in the development process it is often difficult to translate nebulous statements of desire into specific development targets.

Put our experience to use. We'll help you create and manage a development plan, leveraging our abilities to understand key technological issues, identify critical development stages, and shepherd products from concept to reality. That means your research and development dollars are spent only where they will directly impact value delivered to your customer.

For a description of some of my specific engineering milestones, Click Here.

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