The Research Helicopter is a service supporting research teams in exploiting research results and bringing them to market. To fulfill this goal, the Research Helicopter offers a complete range of services: coaching, advisory and mentoring sessions that can be customised according to the needs of the client, the typology of the project or the sector. The service is deployed in a series of modules, aimed to:
- raise the awareness of exploitation possibilities;
- evaluate the market potential of the research;
- analyse the innovation degree and maturity of the research;
- examine the adequacy of the idea and the legal protection system;
- set roadmaps for the long-term sustainability of project results;
- develop a coherent business plan;
- effectively present project results and their market potential to possible investors.
EU member countries and associated (the initiative could be extended to extra EU countries).
The initiative is implemented by META Group (INSME Member) and involves a panel of 40 experts.
2012 – ongoing
The services are provided by META Group and financed by donors or stakeholders involved in the initiative (Universities, Research Centres etc.). The Research Helicopter was also deployed to almost 600 R&D projects through different framework contracts by the European Commission like ESIC, the ‘Common Exploitation Booster – CEB’, and SSERR.
Universities, research centres, public and private institutions such as the EU DG for Research and Innovation, ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development), Ministries and Regional Authorities.
The aim of the initiative is:
- to remove the obstacles that prevent research results to reach the market as new products and services;
- to offer support to researchers and help them to exploit and commercialise their research results by transforming them into economic growth and wider benefits to society.
The Research Helicopter offers tailored support services (advisory, coaching, mentoring), in particular:
- Exploitation strategy seminars to:
i) raise awareness of exploitation possibilities
ii) discuss how to meet exploitation opportunities
iii) analyse potential risks and obstacles associated with exploitation as well as how to address them
iv) brainstorm on key results
v) enhance the understanding of the importance of connecting with customers and better communicate project’s results.
- Assistance to the development of a coherent and effective business plan from the drafting phase to possible solutions for financing needs. In the framework of the business plan development project partners can get:
i) the Lean Canvas for a selection of Key Exploitable Results
ii) the content for a pitching to potential investors/business partners
iii) a set of recommendations on the steps to be taken after the end of the European Commission support.
- Help to set roadmaps for the long-term sustainability of project results.
- Support in the different stages of the protection of Intellectual Property Rights.
- Guide to effective pitching that:
i) has to address challenges and problems, the added value provided
ii) explain how the novel service/product will mobilize a change
iii) specify the target group.
- On demand services designed to meet specific needs.
The services can be provided at any time during the project life cycle and assistance can be required even after the project has been closed.
The Research Helicopter has been tested and implemented in diverse EU projects. The data collected (according to strict confidentiality agreements) show that the initiative had a positive impact.
The application of the Research Helicopter within the Common Exploitation Booster (CEB) provided 193 tailored services to 1872 organisations involved in 236 projects. All participants involved were surveyed and according to the feedback results: 91% were satisfied with experts’ skills and knowledge; 79% gave a positive feedback on the usefulness of findings and recommendations.
The initiative found application also in fet2rin, a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. In that framework the success rate related to the projects’ proof of concept reached the 50% (the average rate ranges from 8% to 12%).
The main challenges identified in the implementation of the initiative are:
- a cultural barrier that prevents researchers from considering other possibilities than research related to the potential follow up of their projects
- an unclear definition of the activities that hinders a coherent use of the funds available.
These challenges have been mitigated by dedicating part of the advisory services to:
i) the importance of exploitation of results and the high potential that services/products have on the market, meaning there is a significant economic return that brings value to the research and can represent a propeller to bring the research to the next step both from a theoretical and practical point of view;
ii) the need for the definition of effective work packages that identify the priorities leading to the exploitation of research results.
The initiative shed lights on the need for a change in the researchers’ mindset. Increasing awareness on the fact that the research in a variety of fields has a high potential to the market and could be a driver for an effective growth in R&D&I as well as enhance the chances to take benefit from the opportunities of funding offered by the dedicated EU Framework Programmes.
While tools like webinars could be convenient to reach beneficiaries, it is essential to create opportunities for face-to-face interactions between project partners and experts.
The service demonstrated an high impact in the framework of the CEB and fet2rin projects, as well as from the high numbers of researchers involved so far (i.e. 18.000 in ca. 600 services offered to the EU DG Research and Innovation).
The increasing need for new opportunities to accessing funds and optimizing the results of research make the initiative a useful support for future programmes aiming at bringing more R&D results to use and closer to market.
Given the high relevance of generating impact out of R&D&I similar support services could be adopted in different context/fields using funds for Technology transfer or other funds from national and international donors.