The purpose of this document is to summarise interim management review findings on how a business called Sound Approach Ltd, with an innovative idea for a new product called Klenz-Pod, used innovative interim management support funded by the Department of Trade and Industry to move from a concept to a comprehensive risk assessed project plan. This work confirmed significant potential international opportunities for a new product and recommended it should go forward for additional DTI funding and trials by industry leaders.
The project involved the design, manufacture and sale through global licensing of an innovative wet wipe hand cleansing dispenser. The planned new dispenser enables people who work in any environment requiring clean hands to remove risks of cross-infection and contamination. The market need was indicated through regular press reports of deaths in hospitals, and food contamination in restaurants and food processing companies. The unique aspects of the initial product design were identified: unique tub design to allow easier access to wipes and mounting installation; elegant ergonomics; secure fastening to multiple fixed and mobile sites; materials durability for robust use including hospital trolleys and emergency field medical tents; special designed nozzle to prevent moisture loss and wipe slippage; dual chambers linking wipe containers and disposals tubs. The new product design overcame problems with current gel dispensers and dry wipes which caused cross infection and were unacceptable for many users due to inconvenience and poor protection.
The design was completed with patent protection applied. Initial patent applications had been researched. Partners were identified for manufacture, testing, marketing and sales on a global scale. Potential markets existed across the entire food and drink industry: eg food processing companies, wholesalers, retailers, food stalls, mobile operators (such as burger bars, sandwich sellers and ice-cream vans); additional markets existed in areas of poor hygeine eg hospitals, schools, porta-loos, military camps, domestic kitchens and WC’s. New HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) EU legislation Reg EC 852/2004 became law Jan 01 2006 requiring hand cleaning between handling of different meats, fresh and cooked foods, and touching handkerchiefs, towels and other soiled surfaces. It was found that most food handlers were failing to comply to this new law due to no immediate onsite access to effective anti-bacteria wipes.
The project proved the product potential to save thousands of lives in hospitals, reduce sickness and work absenteeism on a large scale, bring millions of pounds to UK GDP, employ many people, and fit recognised needs in healthcare across the world.
All stages were supported by Clive Bonny, a qualified interim manager registered with Business Link. Bonny was authorised as a DTI Innovation Mentor to move new products and services into risk assessed project plans with funding from DTI.
Initial Project Steps
The initial step was a diagnosis of the strengths and weaknesses of the concept. This diagnosis analysed the potential project risks and returns using a structured process whose outputs were summarised in an software-based risk management tool. The diagnosis showed particular strengths in environmental and social impact as the project concept would significantly improve public and private health capability to save lives and reduce illness for thousands of people in UK and abroad.
Bonny identified project opportunities and potential strengths through a technique known as appreciative enquiry. These included the business owner’s experience in international commerce, his links with additional specialist advisors, his past management skills and the strategic fit which this project offered for his business development. Areas identified for additional support included project planning, market assessment, risk management, financial resourcing and competitive analysis. This diagnosis led to a submission for further funded support and an application was submitted under the DTI iii scheme for Investigating an Innovative Idea.
The application specified the following activities required to bring the innovative service to market more quickly: a project plan identifying timelines, milestones and deliverables; investigation with potential customers of product viability, market trends, routes to market, regulatory requirements; analysis of project risks, identifying strategies to minimise risks, consulting with supply chain interests; future financial, commercial, project management and human resource requirements and contingencies; potential for future strategic marketing alliances; steps to protect the core business benefits; competitive position and steps for IPR protection. The DTI Secretariat approved funding for interim management support by Bonny to lead the project in the areas above on the basis that the business owner provided specialist technical knowledge to support complementary areas of the project.
The first formal meeting with Bonny resulted in agreeing how they would work with each other and what would be achieved by each party over the next four months. Activities were specified to cover the gaps identified in the initial risk assessment so that the final output, a written project plan, would summarise timelines, milestones and deliverables enabling the business owner to move from the concept stage to priority actions as a preface to a further submission for a DTI Micro Business Award with a full business plan.
These joint activities included onsite and offsite reviews and visits. Agendas included:
Reviewing and confirming the validity of previous primary research with selected potential users and specifiers; clarifying the benefits of the offer using the “elevator pitch” model, enabling a clear statement on why customers would approve the product concept; identifying existing and potential network contacts with support roles, with key individuals who could support the project in different ways; facilitating introductions within other relevant networks including Ideas21, the Croydon Round Table for Inventors and the Royal Society of Arts, manufactures and Commerce; benchmarking with best practice on innovation processes recommended by Business Link and DTI; this included analysing innovation approaches taken by James Dyson, published in Against The Odds; clarifying the project vision, mission, values and objectives, licensing and distribution options; joint development of market assessment reports to identify market trends, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the key sectors of medical healthcare, food manufacture, preparation, wholesale and retail distribution; identifying potential buyer behaviour and product positioning; introducing other software entrepreneurs to share innovation techniques and stimulate viral marketing and joint referrals; exploring different product users, applications and services to enhance differentiation and marketability.
The final review looked at the initial diagnosis of gaps, and resulted in a written list of forward actions for the business owner. Actions included ongoing research and development, market assessments, further IPR protection, submissions for Business Award schemes on best practice, and drafting a business plan to facilitate further funding from public and private sources.
The project cost was co-funded by DTI. Costs-savings in other third party fees previously quoted for market assessments and external consultancy advice more than offset the net cost of the project for the business owner. The product offer became clearly differentiated with unique features and benefits relevant for user needs. Statistical information from the secondary research and qualitative information from the owner’s primary research was used in the business plan enabling supporting marketing and sales plans to be drafted to develop the project into a successful international business.
Summary by Bonny, DTI Innovation Mentor and Interim Manager
“Klenz-Pod is a concept with a high opportunity for commercial success for many reasons. The business owner manager has relevant international commercial experience with skills in qualitative and quantitative market research and links with key potential stakeholders. These future support partners have commended his product, and his ability to make things happen. Gordon is now well networked into a wide range of experienced business managers who can be called upon for ongoing risk assessment. He has an underpinning passion for the success of the product and negotiates commercial issues with confidence, as shown in his recent presentations on TV and Radio.
There is a high potential market for the product which offers significant operational benefits and cost-savings for medical healthcare and the food and drink industry. The applicability of the product across many diverse supply chains will ensure business sustainability. The market assessment has shown the new product is positioned well to sell. There are clearly identified routes to market. The wide-ranging market assessments with future stakeholders, suppliers and customers have been extremely positive”.