We work with companies from many sectors – pharmaceutical, automotive, consumer good, oil and gas, and others – and our clients are based across the world – the EU, the UK, the USA, Japan, India – and for the first time in our experience, they have all had to deal with the same set of problems.
How do you adapt your technology scouting when you are not allowed to travel and meet people?
Unsurprisingly, BD/scouts are by nature sociable people – so the last year and a half has been tough. But it is not just the drinks and canapes – they generally get a lot out of the social part of conferences, finding useful, background news about their industry along with making contacts that could not be fitted into the partnering schedule.
This lack of social interaction makes online conferences much less good than face to face ones and so, despite events’ organisers best effort, people have been reluctant to spend on attending these online events. This has been tough on the events organisers, of course, who still need to pay staff to put on the events.
The exception for this has been VC, or similar, investors. Investors generally like to stay put – they get buried in people chasing responses to applications for funds, and travelling to events takes up a lot of time they would rather spend at their desks. They have much less interest in all the mingling and prefer to plough through the pitches without having to leave their offices. For them, online events have been great.
Obviously, with people working from home, this has been a difficult time for lab-based work and the level of activity in universities and RIs has been down somewhat too. So there has been a bit less stuff to scout, while being stuck at home means there has been more time to do desk research, with the result that scouts have been checking into things more thoroughly and broadening the sources they check before presenting a novel technology to their colleagues in R&D. However, it has been harder work to find out what you need to know, than it is to sit in a booth at a partnering meeting and have a series of interesting people sit down and explain to you what you want to know and respond to your questions.
We all seem to have adapted to online internal meetings, so after a few months this posed no meaningful problems, but many have reported that conversation that would have taken 10 minutes in person tend to take longer, as meetings get booked in half hour slots. Grabbing 2 or 3 people at once for a quick chat seems to be nigh on impossible too, with a series of meetings much more likely. So, on balance, the online approach has been less efficient, in some respects.
Looking forward – how are things likely to play out?
The working week seems to be shifting now towards a split location system, partly home working, partly back to the office, so many of the relatively minor niggles about internal online-only meetings are going disappear, but the in-person conferences are still few and far between, so we can expect people to be investing further in their additional online tools and sources. After all, with ticket, travel and accommodation, a conference can easily cost anything up to £3,000, so why not buy access to a database for a year for the same price?
This is, of course, where Innovation DB can help. We check 20,000 universities and research institutes each week for novel technologies that have a commercial potential and our data is used by technology scouts to identify items of interest.
Especially in these times, when travel is still restricted and face-to-face contact remains limited, Innovation DB represents an invaluable resource that technology scouts can use to help them keep current and across a wide array of innovations and exciting new opportunities.
If you would be interested to take a look, please get in touch and we can arrange a demo or a trial for you, to see if our service could both help you save time and broaden the identification of technologies of use to your company.