TechLink Study Highlights Opportunities for Faster, More Profitable Innovation in Manufacturing, High-Tech

Research shows more than three-quarters of enterprises lack a holistic innovation strategy.

TechLink, the technology transfer intermediary for the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has announced the results of its R&D Innovation Performance Study, conducted by The MPI Group. Based on responses from 152 U.S.-based executives across a range of industries, including high-tech, software, biomed, manufacturing, aerospace, and defense, the findings illuminate opportunities for enterprises to enhance research and development via innovation strategy.

With an uncertain market and access to capital shrinking, companies must find ways to launch and improve products with tighter budgets and timelines. TechLink’s study shows an opportunity for U.S. companies to leverage innovation best practices that could open market opportunities and positively impact their bottom lines.

“This study offers insights into innovation opportunities and challenges familiar to TechLink,” says Austin Leach, TechLink’s Associate Director. “We’ve worked with companies of all sizes to inject new ideas and capabilities into their innovation and R&D efforts — accomplished through brokering nearly 2,000 technology transfer agreements between businesses and Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs labs. These agreements have resulted in billions of dollars in sales and expansion of the U.S. industrial base. And the best part: We do this at no cost.”

Key findings from the TechLink R&D Innovation Performance Study include:

  • Most companies lack a holistic innovation strategy — if they have one at all — yet are committing significant resources and personnel to R&D.

Among enterprise leaders, fewer than one-quarter (24%) reported having an innovation strategy that addresses all corporate departments. Nevertheless, 41% of companies dedicate more than 10% of their annual revenue to R&D, while nearly one-quarter (22%) have dedicated R&D employees comprising more than 10% of their full-time headcounts.

  • Half of companies see customers as key allies in innovation — but there’s untapped opportunity in universities and government labs.

Most companies view customers as key partners in product development, with almost half of companies (48%) characterizing their customers as frequent collaborators. By contrast, only 22% and 20% of companies frequently turn to universities and government labs, respectively, to bring new products to fruition.

  • Enterprises struggle to efficiently turn ideas into action — while overlooking the value of existing technologies.

Most companies (84%) say they turn half or less of new product or service ideas into budgeted projects. One way to improve efficiency is to tap existing technologies via licensing agreements and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) — which just one-quarter of companies pursue for more than 10% of new products and services.

With TechLink’s R&D Innovation Performance Interactive Assessment — a new, online benchmarking tool — companies can get a no-cost comparison of their R&D innovation practices and performances to those of other companies, as well as groupings of companies by industry, size, and other corporate characteristics.

About TechLink

TechLink is the authorized national technology transfer partnership intermediary for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); we are federally funded to work with companies of all sizes to find commercial potential in technologies developed in DOD and VA labs. Our team facilitates tech transfer partnerships — linking labs with private industry for technology licensing, transfer, and joint R&D across virtually all technology fields — and, in doing so, improves speed and outcomes for companies navigating DOD and VA technology transfer opportunities. Learn more at techlinkcenter.org.