Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The creative process

In another time I will expound about the fallacies that abound in accounting for academic time. (Didn't someone once say something about lies, damned lies and . . .). But to consider the case in point . .

There I was,Saturday morning at home, lying on the floor, half-way through the "Crunch -Turbo Sculpt" videotape and just starting the crunches when I had a thunk.

One of the issues with selling University technology to industry has been in convincing them that there is a marketable product and a way to make money. To give a totally invented example, suppose that you invented a device that only doctors who treat the left hand would use. Now this tool could revolutionize the treatment of those who injure themselves because they are left-handed, and would be vital to their work. But, here's the catch - there are only 600 doctors in the country who specialize in this, and you would be hard pressed to sell the device for more than $500. And once they have one, then they never need another one. So the total market is 800 units at $500 each. You couldn't get a company to build and sell these - because the market is too small and too short.

Well that may be the sort of problem we are going to have with the results of the work for Boston. This is the work where we have just found a slight problem in the design. But as I lay grunting over my abdomen the light came on. If we take the problem and solve it with a throw-away part which has to be replaced each time it is used, then its like printers. We could give away the printer because of what we make on the ink. All I have to do is design the part.

So do you think I could charge the Boston project for my exercise time ?


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