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The Need to Knowledge Model

The Need to Knowledge (NtK) Model is an evidence-based framework to guide the conception, design and generation of technology-based or technology-oriented innovations. Such outcomes from sponsored R&D projects take four different forms:

  1. Standards & Guidelines — Practices, methods, processes or criteria adopted as convention by an industry group (standards), or by clinical practitioners (guidelines), either through formal agreement or as generally accepted norms.
  2. Instruments & Tools — Any implement designed to perform a specific function especially of a delicate or precise nature to include data collection, storage, measurement, management or monitoring, as well as any materials analysis, manipulation or fabrication.
  3. Freeware — Consists of either instructions to build a device (Do It Yourself), or an operational software program downloaded from host sites (App Store).
  4. Commercial Products – Hardware or software produced in sufficient quantities for national/international distribution and sale within the competitive marketplace.

The NtK Model can be used for planning, implementing and managing such projects, particularly those sponsored by government agencies and led by university faculty or small business entrepreneurs.

The NtK Model connects the academic research process with accepted industrial practices regarding new product development and deployment. This connection between what is traditionally called Research & Development is necessary to ensure that the outputs from academic research products that intend to generate beneficial socio-economic impacts, contain the rigor and relevance necessary for industry and related external stakeholders to recognize their utility and value. The NtK model contains everything that well-intended sponsors and project directors ’need to know’ to optimize the probability of eventual transfer, deployment, uptake and use while avoiding the creation of unnecessary barriers arising from insufficient expertise or experience.

How is the NtK Structured?

The NtK Model contains three Phases, each grounded in a distinct yet related methodology: 1) Scientific research; 2) Engineering development; 3) Industrial production. Each Phase contains a series of Activity Stages and Decision Gates, which all must be thoroughly addressed but not necessarily in the order presented. The three methodologies generate equally distinct outputs which embody new knowledge in different states: 1) Conceptual discoveries; 2) Prototype inventions; 3) Commercial innovations, respectively.  

Government-sponsored innovation programs typically fund the academic sector to conduct the front-end activity with the expectation that outputs will be transferred through external stakeholders for eventual adoption by the industrial sector or other targeted stakeholders and beneficiary groups. Consequently, the NtK Model contains opportunities to communicate the value of these ‘knowledge state’ outputs between these academic, professional, industrial and governmental sectors.

How can the NtK Model help me?

Applied Researchers and Engineers
Get a complete vision of the research, development, production continuum; review supporting evidence that shows you how to complete unfamiliar steps; use the toolbox to learn about resources that can help you at any step in the process.

New Product Development Professionals
Review supporting evidence and tools to learn about methods, measures, tools and tips.

Grantees/Grant Applicants
Use the most relevant version of the NtK Model as a template for project proposals; use the technology transfer plan template to guide your commercialization or licensing, transfer or deployment efforts.

Project Sponsors
Use the appropriate NtK Model as a checklist to ensure proposals include all steps needed to achieve commercial or other outcomes that generate the intended beneficial socio-economic impacts.

Evidence Base of Literature