The Research Phase (Stages and Gates 1 through 3) involves conducting primary and secondary market research to identify end users’ unmet needs and assess the feasibility of envisioned solutions to those needs.
The scientific research methodology may then be used where necessary to generate new-to-the-world findings that address unmet needs and/or lend themselves to the proposed solutions. The Research Phase output is new knowledge in the state of Conceptual Discoveries, represented as the results from market, business, and technical analyses, scoping reviews of existing scholarly literature, or findings from original scientific research studies.
Define the problem from the perspective of the eventual target consumer. Then describe the solution in objective “new to world” terms, not subjective “new to me/us” terms. The problem/solution set may represent an improvement in the features/functions of current market offerings, or it may represent an entirely new category of feature/function enabled by some new technological capability.
The project leader has three options: 1) Proceed directly to
Stage 2; 2) Reiterate Stage 1 if any of the critical elements are
not fully validated; or 3) Terminate the project due to inability
to clearly articulate critical elements including: Problem,
Solution, Target Audience, Project Path, or Intended Output. Key
Questions include: Does the proposed problem/solution set appear
to be novel in state of practice; generally feasible
to implement; will envisioned output will be useful to target audience; and is there a clear path from
project output to the beneficiary stakeholders?
Conduct intensive screens to ensure novelty, feasibility and utility of the concept. Use the resulting information to create a business case to share with potential commercial partners.
The project leader must decide now if envisioned project output and path to eventual product/service outcomes are still considered innovative (i.e., novel, feasible, useful) in light of results from objective valuability assessments and SWOT analysis. Once a decision to continue is made, the project leader must then consider if the project can be conducted within the current state of scientific knowledge, or if this specific project requires the generation of new to the world knowledge. If new to the world knowledge is needed, the project leader should pursue funding to design and conduct scientific research to generate this new knowledge. If all the necessary knowledge already exists, it should be acquired, translated and absorbed for project purposes to complete Stage 3. A Key Question is: Does the proposed solution and path to output/outcome seem feasible to implement and accomplish?
Conduct scientific research to generate required new conceptual discoveries. Or acquire, translate, absorb, and apply existing science-based knowledge from qualified sources.
The project leader must determine if the Discovery Phase reaffirmed the potential for the envisioned solution to address the validated problem. If so, either continue project into the Invention Phase (Stages 4 — 6), or identify appropriate partner to initiate those activities. If neither option is viable, either revisit Stage 2 to check for changes in business, market, or technical feasibility and consider reiterating Research Phase; or terminate project and apply knowledge translation principles to effectively communicate Conceptual Discovery to all relevant stakeholders. The Key Question asks: Begin Invention Phase or conclude project with Knowledge to Action process? (See below)
Whether or not project continues, pursue this opportunity to initiate knowledge translation activities to ensure the knowledge created in the state of a Conceptual Discovery is shared with all potential users, while taking care to protect enabling elements of that knowledge that might constitute Intellectual Property. This ensures that the time, money and effort expended — and project outputs generated to this point — have some chance of being put into practice by other stakeholders. The Knowledge to Action diagram and linked table provide more detail for tailoring and targeting the project outputs to effectively communicate them to external knowledge users.
For more detail on ways to reach each knowledge user group, see KTA Table for Discovery Outputs
This table lists six stakeholder groups who may be knowledge users, and answers the questions “What to share with each knowledge user group”, and “How to reach each knowledge user group”, while also describing the anticipated knowledge translation outcomes from engaging with each group.