Seven leaders of the Top 25 Science Meets Business R&D spin-off companies answer the question: What insights can you share with other R&D spin-off start-ups in Australia?
“Fill a market need and lead that market; don’t fill a product gap and complicate your market with a technology push.
It doesn’t matter how technical your product or service is, it needs to be easily explained and have a story that resonates for it to be successful in any market, let alone overseas markets.“
– Shaun Holthouse, Chief Executive Officer
“A few words of wisdom.
1. Make sure there is a viable, readily accessible market that is sufficiently large to support a spin-off company.
2. The actual invention is only the trigger to start a company – you are establishing a company that will need to innovate on an ongoing basis if it wants to be successful. Make sure that innovation capability and desire exists and thrives in the spin-off.
3. Identify competent board and management capability to direct the business and generate revenue for the company. Most often the management capability is not the same people who carried out the research, but sometimes it can be. Without the right people running the show, the spin-off will not be successful.
4. Make sure you have sufficient funding available to get the company through to a viable revenue stream, and ideally flexible funding arrangements. Unexpected things will happen and you need capability to accommodate those changes.“
– Kevin Greenwood, Chief Operating Officer
“Most start-ups are focused on development plans that contain binary events and marginal financing. This makes them vulnerable to unforeseen delays and additional development steps that require additional funding.
I believe that we should be looking to generate portfolios of innovation under experienced management teams that give our projects the best chance of success – and adequate funding to reach proof of concept in whatever market we are targeting – but at the same time help to spread risk.“
– Gary J Phillips, Chief Executive Officer
“Ensuring a strong board, CEO, and a quality management team will be critical to success. The availability of funds for programs is an often-discussed barrier to rapid progress. Underfunded companies and poorly thought-out product concepts or technologies are more likely to fail early.“
– Michael Kotsanis, Chief Executive Officer
“1. For biotechnology R&D spin-off start-ups in Australia, major hurdles are the dearth of seed capital as well as access to large follow-on venture funds that are needed to build successful biotechnology companies.
2. There is a mismatch between the 10-year life span of a venture capital fund in Australia and the 15+ years needed to translate research findings into a novel drug or biologic product for improving human health.
3. Hence, these systemic issues are major impediments to building successful biotechnology companies in Australia and these issues need to be addressed.”
– Professor Maree Smith, Executive Director of the Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development and Head of the Pain Research Group at The University of Queensland
“Start-up companies may consider moving overseas, especially if the Government stops or reduces the R&D tax rebates and doesn’t establish some innovation stimulus packages.“
– Dr Julian Chick, Chief Operating Officer
“Nothing ever goes 100% smoothly – perseverance is a prerequisite.“
– Stuart Smith, Chief Executive Officer
Click here to see the full list of Top 25 Science Meets Business R&D spin-off companies, or for further insights from the Top 25 leaders, read their interviews on attracting venture capital, learning from overseas markets, getting past the valley of death and overcoming major start-up challenges.