Market study for device to improve non-destructive testing of material samples.

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre
Department Name: Science and Technology


The work to be undertaken

Market Analysis

The independent consultant will be required to:-
1. Conduct a SWOT analysis on the Product.

2. Identify whether there are any competing solutions/products in the market.

3. Identify any barriers or gaps within the Product that may prevent 'take-up' by the relevant market and hence any further technology development required.

4. Identify the horizontal and vertical market opportunities for the Product, including: financial size of each market; expected benefits of the Product for each market; assessment of the demand for the Product by each market.

5. Recommend the best route to market to maximise returns including but not limited to: identify at least 3 UK manufacturing companies and obtain an understanding of how they charge for their manufacturing services; identify at least 10 potential sales licensees across different geographic regions and obtain their views on the likely retail price of a unit.

The consultant will be encouraged to think laterally to identify product and market opportunities but it would be required at the very least to research the opportunities/markets summarised in the Beneficiaries section.

Laboratory testing

In parallel, units of the device will be manufactured and tested on samples at pressures up to 10,000 psi / 60 mpa. We anticipate the key issue will be whether the material/substrate of the device is sufficiently robust to withstand the high pressure. If so, we plan to publish our results which will build credibility and interest in the device.

How will it inform our understanding?

The market research will provide NERC and NOC with the optimum mix of information to judge what further development is required, if any, and the best routes to market including identifying 3 potential UK manufacturing companies and the most appropriate sales licensees for the relevant market by geography and sector. Geographic regions should include Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East, North America, Russia CIS and South America. The testing of the device will inform whether any modifications need to be made.

How it will help shape the development and execution of our proposed Follow-on project?

The market analysis will inform:-

1. The Business Case for the device/product - Stop/Go;
2. Whether and how we need to develop the device/product to meet specific licensee/end-user requirements;
3. The planning and development of the best routes to market/licensing plan.

We anticipate successful testing and so the key will be to find the most appropriate manufacture and sales licensees which we anticipate wouldn't require further capital investment from NERC as the NOC enterprise team would be able to assist us in this task.

Planned Impact

The device, we believe, will deliver the benefits as outlined above and the impact could be wide ranging across the identified markets (see Beneficiaries section) and potentially others recommended by the market research consultant. We anticipate that the device/product will be 'fit for purpose' and as a low cost/high value item, it should, with the right commercial agreements/licenses and partners in place, generate significant impact for the licensees, end users and NERC and NOC.
In terms of the societal impact, the device should lower the costs of conducting material testing and so enable the private and public sectors to "do more with less" which will ultimately benefit the paying customer, the taxpayer and society as a whole.
The economic impact should be seen through the prism of adding value to numerous companies across a wide range of sectors as outlined in the beneficiaries section and generating increased revenue for the UK Treasury via corporation tax of our license partners. By improving the product port-folio of these companies, it may also contribute to the creation of more jobs across these sectors. As it will enable research institutes to "do more with less", the tax payer's money will go further and so value is created here. Royalty income would also be generated for NERC/NOC which can be re-invested into scientific research.
The environmental impact would include using less energy to achieve the same (or better) results as the device enables the measurement of multi-parameters in one experiment or test which may otherwise require numerous experiments.


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Description The award resulted in a market survey report on possible commercial market interest and avenues for exploitation of the new device. After approaching a private company with a view to licensing the technology to them, it was clear they would be willing to market the device as part of their portfolio of products but not maintain the patent application. Advice around associated software was also taken on board (any associated software would give higher value to the product when sold as a hardware/software package than licensing the device alone). Given the limited commercial potential and likely low sales volumes, we decided: 1) not to file the patent (so that our IP could be protected, as once published and withdrawn, anyone can read the details), and 2) instead continue to use the technology in our research activities and hence enhance our potential future consultancy income through offering an unique service.
Exploitation Route As this was for the purpose of commercialisation, we decided to restrict access to our IP and use the results to enhance our own consultancy services in future. The wider community can access this IP via our consultancy services. However, we will also be publishing research results using this technology in the open literature, and it is possible that third parties could develop similar systems based on our publications.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description The award allowed a market study which we used to inform commercialisation decisions, ongoing. We have had interest from overseas laboratories wishing to use these and related technologies developed in the NOC rock physics laboratory. We are currently pursuing this. A related NERC Follow on Grant was submitted in 2017, to work with Geotek Limited on novel adaptation of our sensors for shipboard hydrate core logging, but unsuccessful.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology