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Commercialisation & Distribution

Commercialisation & Distribution

Useful tips that will help you when designing a startup’s marketing plan


Even in R&D-focused industries, you don’t need to rely on a heavyweight to swoop in and buy your innovation.

Say you are an entrepreneur looking to make a big splash in the medical technology industry. Your new rapid test for bacterial infections will make emergency rooms more efficient and reduce how long it takes to train hospital staff. You are confident that big firms will want to acquire the technology-probably outbidding each other for the prototype.

As tempting as this sounds-and as sure as you may be that it will pan out-there are benefits to a more patient, self-sustaining approach.

Katie Arnold, the founder of SPRIG Consulting and an adjunct lecturer of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School, advises startups to design a marketing plan to take them from conception to commercialization-without relying on a heavyweight swooping in to buy.

In research-heavy industries such as medtech, pharmaceuticals, automotive engineering and military technology, a thorough marketing plan is critical for guiding products through development processes that can take up to a decade.

It also serves a second purpose. “Having a comprehensive marketing plan earlier in the development process makes discussions with potential acquirers go more smoothly because they can envision how the opportunity may come to fruition within their commercial infrastructure,” Arnold says.

How medical device CEOs can navigate digital health disruption

In the first of a series of three articles, we get global leaders, McKinsey & Company's insight on the medtech market right now. They give their expert advice to medical device companies, explaining how they can navigate through digital disruption.


Arnold shares three pieces of marketing advice for startups in sectors that have long R&D timelines.

Determine Where Your Company’s Product Fits Relative to the Big Players’ Priorities

The big fish in any R&D-heavy industry-for instance, Abbott, Baxter, and Medtronic in medtech-tend to prioritize external growth opportunities that can then be marketed via their existing channels for distribution and sales. These giants count on startups and smaller firms to feed them viable products in growing areas-and, if the product aligns with their priorities, they pay handsomely for those innovations.

Image pulled from original article.

This article first appeared on Kellogg Insight and was written by Katie Arnold. You can read the full article here.

About the author

Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management created an online publication to reach out to ambitious business leaders to provide them with the research and expertise needed to drive growth.

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