Gateway: Basics of Technology Commercialization

NanoFOD in action

Professor: Eric Toone / Rob Hallford

Year: Spring 2015

Syllabus description

This course will be a combination of lecture, individual and assignments, and discussion of real technology development opportunities.  We have organized the course around the basic elements of taking technology from the bench/conception to development and commercialization, as such:

1)       Understanding technology:  Evaluating the underlying technology and its potential, Assessing unmet need and competitive landscape,Delving into intellectual property, Finding the “killer app”    

2)       Developing a plan to get to market:  The Lean Launchpad,   Timelines and value inflection points, Development plans, Regulatory 

3)       Assessing the potential market: Market size, Pricing and economics

4)       Compiling an evaluation Integrating technology, development plan, and market opportunity, Developing a presentation”  (Toone & Hallford Syllabus 1)


For The Basics of Technology Commercialization, we had to do a commercial assessment of a technology and present our case and findings. We had to assess the follow

  1. Value proposition of the product,
  2. The specificity and quality of the customer segment,
  3. The nature of the market, the value of the product compared to competitors and the current available options
  4. Intellectual property and security
  5. The market opportunity
  6. Potential risks and setbacks
  7. Our conclusion on the technology based on the find
  8. Our reccomendations to strengthen or improve the technology.

My team and I were assigned, “NanoFOD, “a dosimetry measurement technique for micro beam radiation therapy using a nano particle-terminated fiber-optic dosimeter (nano-FOD)” (Source)

View our final presentation below.

NanoFOD Presentation



This was my first time doing an analysis on a business to approve or disapprove (with recommendations for improvement) on a real life product. My team and I had to put ourselves in the perspective of the target customer and the creators of the technology. I learnt how to ask questions and came to understand it is not enough to have a great, fabulous idea; that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can create a product that no one cares about (or someone could steal from you, true story).

Though I did not have interests in the health care space, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and I learnt a big lesson. How difficult it is to articulate your ideas to people. There are a lot of intelligent people in the world who come up with mind blowing ideas BUT (and this is a big one), if you’re not able to share its value in a simple manner and carry people along with you, it’s as good as useless. Here I was trying to explain to a group of people on a technology from a space I was unfamiliar with and tell them if/why the product was good or crap. I loved enjoyed it but I wished it wasn’t solely focused on healthcare industry.

I would have loved the class to touch on a broader range industries and even addressed physical commodities. Being exposed to the Lean Methodology was a big win too. I learnt the importance for building for yourself AND your customers because at the end of the day, they’re all that matters. Things don’t have to be perfect because what you think people want and what they actually want are two different worlds. I really enjoyed hearing the stories of different entrepreneurs and my biggest take away was embarking on life as an entrepreneur is a marathon not a sprint… And sometimes you’ll fall on your face and be hit a volcanic boulder while you’re down. Some of the stories were terribly sad. I’ll share one briefly…

A specific man, I don’t remember his name was in the healthcare industry (surprise) and he’d been developing a breast cancer drug for 10+ years (wow) only to have a bigger company steal his IP, tweak it a tad and sell it. He didn’t make one penny from his creation. I cried for him. Long story short, it was a good class and I won’t be going into healthcare.