Starting a Deeptech Startup

Starting a DeepTech Startup


There is a wide gap between the amount of deeptech research happening at academic institutions and the research that is significantly productised. If you are a deeptech researcher wondering how to take your research technology to the market, this blog is for you.


In a conversation with Mr.Ganapathy Venugopal, the co- founder and CEO of Axilor Ventures, we discussed elaborately on ways to productise deeptech research and connect it to market needs worth solving.


Why Deeptech Startups are different from other startups

The trajectory that every startup follows is: Proof of Science – Proof of technology – Proof of business – Proof of scale. The stage that separates a deep tech startup from all others startups is Proof of Science, which adds the crux of unpredictability, uncertainty and long gestation periods to the already speculative balance of scientific research innovation and finding real market demand. Out of the say, 100 startups doing research at an academic institution, a handful 20 come out of this stage with a product that is unique, credible, defensive, and has a strong IP. An even smaller number gets converted into a successful business venture because of the researchers being at a loss for market value.

This brings us to the conclusion that for a deeptech startup to taste success, it has to journey through proof of science, find validation and address a real market need.


Sailing from scientific research to real market impact


As romantic as it may sound, having a cutting-edge technology to find the right use case in the real world through an element of serendipity and surprise rarely produces significant results. This is why innovators involved in sound scientific research should actively and consistently try to resonate with industrial needs. Valuable businesses are born out of innovators having the drive and attitude to hunt down a market gap for themselves. Ways to do this:

  • Dive into development as early as possible, given the gestation period and uncertainty of deep tech startups.
  • Work on potentially large commercial applications at the back of your mind. Embed them into the product early on during the ideation process itself.
  • Actively look for use cases with the attitude of inclination. Build the capability to work on the right ones.


Finding a compelling market need to be solved


Every researcher has a golden hammer and is looking for a nail but the trick is to have a golden nail and look for the hammer.


Defining the right problem to be solved is 80% of the work done. There are various models to make this happen:

  • Industry folks and Researchers jointly compiling the list of emerging problems that need solving.
  • Venture curation organisations who offer the competitive advantage of knowing what researchers are working on and matching it with industry problems that need solving.
  • Having a Chief Business Officer drag the innovation out of the lab, take it beyond proof of science, validate technology, get exposure and figure out how to build it into a successful business.



How to identify market  opportunity


The various models connecting research to market are:


  • Technology Transfer Offices act as a bridge between industrial needs and research happening in Academic institutions. Their goal is to find demand where the industry can pull the innovation out of research through licensing or buying out or setting up a business.
  • Reaching out to industry stakeholders for a market opinion on the technology.


Finding the right use cases

“Whom am I building this for?”

A startup founder should ask himself this question early on in his business journey and keep his plans in tune. It is said the best startup founders are fantastic product managers. It is tough to find a commercially compelling use case even for a cutting edge technology, which is why they should ask themselves this question time and again. The earlier one asks this question in the research process, the higher the yield of successful innovation that is able to bring out real change.



We hope we could answer some vital questions for you!

Watch the complete discussion to know more about starting a deeptech startup.


Watch this space for more interesting and enriching conversations.


Stay safe!



-Bhumika Jain, Team CIE


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