R&D for the Little Guy



product-development-(1).jpgThere are a lot of factors for manufacturers to consider when developing new products. In this blog, we’ll cover some of the most important aspects to keep in mind during development as well as review some of the valuable resources available to help manufacturers throughout the innovation process.

New products must be developed with the end user in mind. While it is important to keep customers satisfied, they are not always the end user. Fulfilling end users’ needs is paramount to successful commercialization.

To ensure your new product is something people will want to buy, you need to communicate with end users early and often. Conversations should feel organic with open-ended questions eliciting unfiltered opinions on the product, ideas for improvement and their overall needs. Carefully craft questions to provoke the most honest responses possible. For further insight into this topic, there are many online courses and books available such as The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick. Once you’ve had thorough, honest discussions with end users, you will have a more clear idea of the type of product you need to develop.

Before beginning development, it is beneficial to analyze your target markets or industries to ensure they are growing. If you are expanding into a new market, take time to evaluate the barriers to entry and risks associated with that market. Doing research initially and periodically throughout development to determine if the product will be financially successful could save you in the long run.

Your local library and the Library of Congress Small Business Hub provide free online databases for market research. While these resources are good, more up-to-date data can be accessed by working with professional market researchers like our team at The Center.

With your new product idea in mind, and data to support its viability, the next step is to bring it to life. Finding a burgeoning technology may be easier than you imagine. University and government laboratories are filled with scientists and innovations waiting to be commercialized.  Attending (virtual) conferences is a great way to talk to a scientist. Many scientists from government labs use conferences as way to meet commercialization partners. Events in America has an extensive list of upcoming trade shows, conferences and consumer shows.

Another way to connect with scientists and innovators is to search academic journals and patents. Lens is a free database of patent and related academic articles. Many research universities also have programs to encourage commercialization and community partnerships.  The Economic Growth Institute at the University of Michigan is one such entity.

For companies located in Michigan, there are three programs available through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) that support commercialization:

When developing new products and innovations, a diverse range of expertise and knowledge is required to be successful. With the right technical experts, business experts, user design experts and manufacturing experts working toward the same goal, the possibilities are limitless.

For additional assistance with your new product development, The Center can help. Learn more at the-center.org or contact our experts at inquiry@the-center.org.


MONTGOMERY_P-web-pref-8-2020.jpgPaula Montgomery, Research Consultant
Paula is a Research Consultant at The Center. In her role, Paula utilizes her skills in data analytics, information visualization and communication, combined with her passion for research, to support The Center’s efforts to create custom market research reports for clients. 





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Categories: growth, Innovation