• Research and demonstrations: How to better align projects with industry

    by  • August 19, 2015 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    Chainsaw Woodcarving VII

    You need to get your hands dirty in demonstrations! (by Dennis van Zuijlekom cc)

    Following the previous post on the importance of the diffusion of innovations when it comes to research projects we will delve now in the importance of demonstrations to attract new adopters.

    As it is often said, doing something new is not an innovation per se. Only those practices, equipments,.. that are adopted by a “client” can be regarded as innovation. The practices can be thousand-years old, but if the client has not used it before, then it is an innovation for them. Obviously adopting an old and proven technology is easier than adopting the latest technology that comes from research labs.

    One of the best ways to attract new adopters is to show the innovation. However, and specially in a research project, we can consider two types of demonstrations: i) experimental demonstration, and ii) exemplary demonstration (Rogers, 1995). Experimental demonstration is mostly oriented to evaluate the innovation in a real scenario. An exemplary demonstration is geared towards new adopters.

    At U-Qasar we are now busy with the experimental demonstrations. The consortium companies are using the methodology and platform. Aalto and SINTEF are busy evaluating the effectiveness of the U-Qasar methodology at the consortium companies. At Vaibmu we are specially interested in the impact of U-Qasar within the companies. And on top of that we have the formal evaluation of the platform, led by MTP.

    We are aware that U-Qasar still requires tweaks here and there to make it successful. That’s why we are conducting this experiment with a critical eye. We will be reporting all the findings. However, given the little time left in the project, we aim to identify the “low-hanging fruit”, aka small improvements that will result in a better experience for adopters”. We are also looking for the best selling points of U-Qasar, does U-Qasar manage to streamline your SQA processes? does it help you find bottlenecks/fixes in your development processes?

    In parallel, we are creating the demonstration materials that will help future demonstration activities to proceed smoothly. Amongst the material we are readying are:

    • Product webpage: Simple landing page to show.
    •  Feature tour: Great to show U-Qasar to new users.
    • Screencasts: Specially useful to show how easy is to set up the U-Qasar platform so that it works in the client’s environment.
    • Testimonials video: Real feedback from the users of U-Qasar.
    • Posters and slides: Great for presentations at conferences and fairs.

    As we have seen, demonstrations have two main roles (experimental and exemplary). At research projects, it is mostly the experimental role that matters. However, it is important to prepare during the whole project to create a nice “deck” of material to show to potential clients. The FP7 consortium provides a great place to demo and improve the demonstration material in a risk-free environment. Also remember the ability to spread the innovation across different departments of the same company, you will be surprised about the “silo mentality”, and how easy it is to break it. However, the proof is in the pudding, and attending fairs and events is the best way to gather interest and new adopters.


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