Professor John Hunter has developed a food supplement for horses. Here he shares what he wishes he’d known
Getting any product to market is a challenge but with scientific products there are additional hurdles. Here are seven tips I wish I’d been given before I started.
Expand your field of reference
Ideas and inspiration can come from unexpected sources. Look out for interesting ideas, explore the existing research and see what you find. Meet people in different areas of expertise. Crossover points often bring insight and can inspire the development of a ground-breaking new product.
Lead with the science
Real science and clear evidence are essential. If you focus on building a company rather than getting the science right you are putting the cart before the horse (!). You need money to get credible scientific proof, so concentrate on that. Don’t spend it elsewhere unless you really have to, or you’ll risk running out of cash.
Hire a good patent lawyer to help you write your patents
Build credibility in one area
Even with good science you’ll need to gain people’s confidence to convince them of your product’s efficacy.
Start with a small market where you can reach the right people. Let them see the product in action and take part in trials. Write article for relevant peer-reviewed journals. By starting with a smaller group you’ll gain traction faster, and then expand. If you aim too widely, you’ll need a lot of money to gain any awareness and traction. Focus on one area at a time.
Expand your team at the right time
By building up a body of scientific evidence you should gain greater buy-in from investors and also gain more scientific backing. Once you have confidence in your product’s efficacy and the evidence for it you can move to the next stage – building the wider team to launch the product to market.
Get expert help with patents
Getting patents is tricky. You may find you need the evidence before you’re confident in applying for the patents, but we need patents before you can publish any details.
Hire a good patent lawyer to help you write your patents in order to expedite the process and to advise you on what you can and can’t include in your published research (you don’t want to share your secrets).
Understand regulatory requirements
Every product, and especially a scientific product, needs to pass certain regulatory requirements. Medical products take the longest to process. Fortunately, our product, Equinectar, is classified as a food supplement rather than a medical product, so the regulations are lighter.
Regulatory approval takes time. Knowing what regulatory framework your product will fall into and how long the process should take, will help you manage your cash flow until you are approved.
This may also affect your choice of ingredients. If you are using any prohibited or novel ingredients in your product it could take much longer to gain approval. Consider this at the development stage.
Manage your funds
When bringing a scientific product to market you will need a lot of money. Managing cash flow need your constant attention so that you can pay for specialist studies, product development, patents, lawyers, regulatory approval etc. when you need to and pay to support yourself and your team throughout the journey. High hurdles? Yes, but ones worth jumping over.
Prof John Hunter is founder of Tharos, an equine health company. He has been a consultant to companies including Shell, Unilever, Nutricia, Quest International and Marlow Foods