How to improve research focus and get better return from your research activity?

 In Case Studies, R&D Strategies

I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” -Bill Gates

Here comes an important question – Where to direct the research activity or what to fund?

Deciding research focus is not an easy thing. It’s a big decision on which depends the future of an organization. A right decision can take you ahead of the competitors, and a poor one can deprive you of becoming a leader in a business area.

Let me take help of images to describe this:

How ineffective decision-making leads to chaotic research cycle:

How effective decision making leads to Smooth & Effective Research Cycle:

Research is complex and it involves a lot of to and fro of thoughts, techniques, tests, and results. It involves a lot of reading, information collection, analysis, and implementation. In some cases, a trial and error method works best and in some cases, one can get a clear-cut path to walk.

Without a second thought, we can agree that it is indispensable to have knowledge of what is existing and where to start. A strong start with the information, insights, and analysis can help in changing the research cycle from 1 to 2.

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”
~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Laurate

Here are some of the pointers that the organization best at research and development use before/while deciding their research focus. This makes sure that their research cycle looks like the second image above. Here are the pointers:

Problems on which majority of the players are working

If a majority of the research entities of the domain are focusing on a set of problems, it is a good sign. It indicates that these are industry-wide problems and finding a solution(s) can open doors to multiple avenues. New successful products, high licensing potential, and market capture are some of the benefits.

Research focus of the top companies and universities

This is a criterion imperative to check. Many a time, it happens that a whole industry focuses on common areas while the top players and the top research institutes of domain focus on a completely different thing. Finding these and their further analysis can reveal promising areas to channelize your research investments into.

Areas of continuous research and less favorable solutions

Some of you might have guessed the importance of this parameter – the first two parameters if considered alone can also lead to saturated areas of research as the statistics will be based on the existing level of research. To rule out the false positives, this parameter comes handy.

If there is continued interest in a particular area of the research area where less favorable solutions have been researched, then this also becomes another litmus test to filter out the areas of promising return on research investment.

Areas where research has gained momentum in the recent time

When research in a particular area has just started, there are possibilities that the above parameters may not help in filtering the promising areas of research. In such cases judging how fast a particular research area is getting momentum as compared to other areas can be a deciding factor.

A tip – this parameter can also be clubbed is big players are entering a new research area or is it the startups, are companies interested in the research area or just the research institutes and there can be many such permutation and combinations to derive important insights.

But what if the research area is in the nascent stage which lacks actionable data? Such a scenario makes an evaluation of promising research areas a tough nut to crack. Well, here is one parameter as a bonus that can help in such situations:

Areas of high investment/funding

Checking in which type of companies or universities funding/investment is increasing, and what is the research focus of those companies or universities can give you some good hints.

These pointers are too crucial from research focus standpoint. Yet there aren’t many tools in the market for help.

It may seem like I’m advertising, however, sincerely we built NorthStar to help R&D Heads and CTO make sound research strategy and decisions supported by:

  • facts,
  • industry insights backed by crucial analysis
  • and, based on permutation and combination of a variety of parameters

If you want to know how North Star can help you, consider requesting a demo today: Click here to Get Started

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