The Path To a Sucessful Technology Commercialization

The Path To A Successful Technology Commercialization

Over the last 15 years, I have seen successful launches and some real flops in the path to genomics and biotechnology commercialization.

If I were to think about the times when we were successful, I would say that in almost all of those cases, we had mastered every single aspect of:

  1. Knowing Our Industry's Players
  2. Understanding Our Audience
  3. Building a Team of Trusted Advisors

The examples mentioned here are specific to the livestock industry, but the strategy itself goes well beyond this industry.

Know Your Industry's Players 

Technology Companies

Technology companies are key components in the quest for genetic improvement. They develop laboratory equipment that enables the use of genomics-based tests.

Technology companies have started developing their own genomics tests and selling them directly to the end user. This has stimulated competition and some uptake at the end-user level. In order for real uptake to be stimulated, there needs to be some type of customization of the solution, particularly if the industry in question has too many segments and breeds.

Customization is possible when those companies understand the industries that they are serving and how to alleviate their customers’ “pain points”.


Over the years, the users of genomics and biotechnology have decided to either build their own laboratory system or outsource the work to a few laboratories. Setting up a laboratory is no easy task. It requires significant investment and knowledge of laboratory practices and training of personnel. Very few genetics companies have decided to tackle this challenge and set up their own shop.

Those that outsource services to established laboratories need to understand how laboratory procedures work. There needs to be a synergistic relationship between customers and the laboratories, so that a proper system can be implemented.

A successful breed improvement program has many facets that require the proper turn-around of results to make selection decisions. If that can’t happen, then the obvious choice is to build your own laboratory with the help of technology companies.

Related: 3 Golden Rules for a Stress-Free Genetic Improvement Program

Breed Associations, Genetic Evaluation Companies and Genetics Companies

A lot of the success in utilizing genomics and biotechnology comes from organizations that have engaged, supported and continue to support data collection. The ones that have embraced technology early on, even when they didn’t fully understand its value are today reaping the benefits of those investments.

These organizations are continuing to challenge the status quo. They now have the opportunity to expand and provide additional value to their membership and customers by developing strategies that create demand for their customers' products.

A logical step is a domestic or international expansion. Whether an expansion is on the radar, they need to understand that what got them here is not what will necessarily get them to the next step. One thing is for sure, though, an increase in collaboration with other like-minded organizations and people is likely to get them very far.

Related: The Future of the Breed Associations


Are you a Breed Association, Seedstock or Commercial Producer interested in setting up the correct breed improvement program that includes genomics strategies and workflow that will propel your business to the forefront? ASK ME how you can properly integrate those strategies to scale your business.


Understand Your Audience

The Product Development Phase

Before the path to commercialization can begin, a product or a service that is of need must be developed. Product development in genomics and biotechnology requires full understanding of the mechanisms that underpin the genetics of the species that you are creating a product for.

A specific example in the cattle world is the difference in the parentage panels used for taurus vs indicus cattle. While their genomes share many similarities - they are both bovine- they have evolved and adapted differently over hundreds of years, both because of their environments and of how they were selected for in different production systems.

Whichever the objective, make sure that there is a demand for that product (maybe it's an internal demand or an external one) and that the proper internal mechanisms for development are being used and followed.

Related: How to Develop AgriGenomics Products and Get the Best Prices

Related: 3 Golden Rules for a Stress-Free Genetic Improvement Program

The Product Launch Phase

At this phase, companies are ready to launch their product. They have developed, validated and they have the data and testimonials of people who they have engaged as the beta-testers. They have also done something very important by this stage: they have determined whom the product is for and whom it is not for, in other words, they have properly segmented their customers ahead of time.

Who are you selling your product to? Does it answer and tackle their "business pain"?

The Seedstock segment is different than the feedlot segment. You won't have much luck selling a breeding test to the feedlot segment.

Do you know how I know that a breeding test is not for the feedlot segment? The feedlot segment is not in the business of breeding cattle.

The point here is to know what business your clients are in before you offer them solutions that don't work for them. Understand the value chain that you are in.

Related: To Test or Not to Test


Are you a company in the animal, crop or plant industry? WORK WITH ME to properly manage the integration of genomics (DNA testing) technology in your organization, while training your staff and customers on how to capitalize on it.


Build Your Team of Trusted Advisors

Sales & Marketing 

At this stage, companies have already created their product, validated it and launched it. They are entering what most people know as the Sales & Marketing phase. People unfamiliar with marketing concepts and its power tend to think that marketing is basically what you do when you create pamphlets and brochures.

They hire a designer to work on their slides, ads and literature material and call it their marketing team. That's not what marketing is at all. A marketing team is the team that understands the industry, the customers and speaks their language. They work closely with the "sales" team.

Your “Sales & Marketing” Team is your team of Trusted Advisors.

You need to build a team of people who can speak your customer’s language when it comes to delivering solutions, so that all the early work of developing and launching a product can be capitalized on.

A Team of Trusted Advisors is not just a team that is technically trained to do the job, but a team that has the qualities that enable them to develop a good working relationship with their clients.

Related: The 7 Essential Traits of a Trusted Advisor

Related: 7 Lessons to Practice if You Want to Successful Transition From Academia to Industry

Remember that customers don’t buy from companies. They buy from people. When your team of trusted advisors empowers their customers and delivers value at every step of the implementation and sales process, it builds trust. The customers are happy and they come back for more.

I get asked what advice I have for organizations – Breed Associations and Societies, Cooperatives, Ranches etc.. – that are thinking about using genomics and biotechnology.

I say that all of those involved in raising, selling, buying or registering livestock need to “Make Their Herd Genetics Their Business”. That starts with setting up the proper baseline and strategies for implementing the technology, whether technology is genomics or a new software that automates tasks.

Genetics is the foundation of an efficient production system. And with that, you need to learn to use all of the tools that are available to you and your business.

Related: Genome Editing: What's the Big Deal?


Are you a company in the Agriculture Biotechnology Industry with technology that helps farmers and ranchers make better decisions about their business? WORK WITH ME to properly develop the market for your product or service.


About the Author Elisa Marques

An advocate for lifelong learning. A self-admitted textbook collector. I have been traveling around the globe since the tender age of 16 and have lived in 3 different countries. Some say that the 90's cartoon character "Carmen SanDiego" was loosely based on me, but who knows. I am a nerd at heart with a huge passion for science, marketing and teaching.

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  • Elisa, I hope you’re doing well. I enjoyed reading this post and found it incredibly interesting despite the limited time I’ve spent recruiting in the genomics industry. I will say that I have spoken with many individuals who mentioned joining a company only to have it “flop”, it seems there’s a theme here. This article offers great advice and expertise not only in genomics, but in business in general. Take care!

  • Thanks, Jacob! Glad you have enjoyed this article. I will keep sharing my insights!

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