Image of Rana GuptaThe Journey to Impact is a monthly blog featuring insights from Rana K. Gupta, Director of Faculty Entrepreneurship at Boston University. He helps BU researchers bring technology and other research breakthroughs to the marketplace to increase their impact through programs and workshops, one-on-one consulting with faculty, educational resources, and community building among BU innovators.


Here’s a misunderstood** word: commercialization.

The University of Pittsburgh offers a straightforward definition: “Commercialization is the process by which a new product or service is introduced into the general market.

That’s it.

Too often, commercialization is misunderstood to mean “sales and marketing.” Those tasks are components of commercialization; they are not synonymous with the word. I suppose it’s because commerce is the root of commercialization so people’s minds go right to the transaction side of business (sales and marketing).

I bring this up because this semester all four of our speakers will discuss topics foundational to commercialization: 1) SBIR grants; 2) creating BUZZ for your idea (part of marketing); 3) creating the Perfect Pitch and 4) sales. Put another way, the four speakers will talk about 1) one type of commercialization funding; 2) how to use resources to create interest in your idea; 3) how to communicate your idea; 4) how to sell your idea. The BUZZ and Sales topics are reasonably self-explanatory but both speakers will be discussing “how to.” Come learn how to market and sell. Register here for all sessions (select the date of the session on the right).

I want to highlight the other two speakers. On October 19, Dan Lilly from the Mass. State Business Development Center (MSBDC) will talk about SBIR grants. On November 16, Linda Plano will talk about how to create a Perfect Pitch.

First, what’s an SBIR grant?

I’ll let the official Gov people explain: The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization.

They call it America’s Seed Fund. More than three billion dollars will be given to small US businesses this year, to help you commercialize your idea. Dan Lilly works for the state of MA. Dan’s sole objective is to help YOU get financing for your company. Among his many funding talents is SBIR financing. These are government funds explicitly designed for researchers to advance your ideas to market. Learn how to get started here. But before you get started, come listen and ask many questions to Dan on Tuesday, October 19.

Second, what’s a Perfect Pitch?

A pitch should address your audience’s needs. It is not a forum to talk about your idea if your idea is not couched in terms of addressing THEIR needs. Linda will teach you her  10 question approach to building a perfect pitch. Communicating how you’re going to address your audience’s needs is as if not more important than the idea itself. You HAVE TO be able to communicate your idea’s value (to the audience) if you want to bring it to market.

Come to the BUild Lab on Tuesday, November 16 to engage with Linda and hone your pitch.

** Misunderstood and therefore misused in both the research and business worlds, by the way