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R&D funding needs to focus on results

April 20, 2012

The Vancouver Sun’s Editorial Pages editor Fazil Mihlar writes a good piece on the folly of R&D funding in Canada.

R&D funding needs to focus on results.

I have seen it first hand where technology entrepreneurs focus on criteria and timelines prescribed by the various granting agencies and tax credit programs. Some  entrepreneurs I have met actually adjust their business plans in order to meet these criteria.

This is wrong headed and dangerous.

Entrepreneurs should start by identifying a market problem, determining their best solution, figuring out how they are going to make money and how much money they will need to get to profitability and then recruit a first class team. Then they should spend their time finding customers and using them to validate the solution.

Notwithstanding Steve Jobs’ creed that he will tell customers what they want, I think that there is no better feedback on a business’ prospects than a customer’s feedback. If they are paying for a product or service and paying enough to generate proper risk adjusted returns then that is most important. If the granting agencies and tax credit schemes fit within that model then great, if not then that’s okay too.

Caveat: my comments are focused on those entrepreneurs actually trying to build sustainable businesses as opposed to those who are trying to build a product to flip it like Instagr.am.

 

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