Entering the R&D 100? These 10 tips will help you finish with style
The R&D 100 Awards is our most prestigious Awards event of the year, and after 52 years of doing this, R&D’s editors believe it’s one of the best ways to gauge the competitiveness of new, technologically-advanced products. But completing our entry process doesn’t have to be difficult. First-time competitors and veteran product development both can benefit from a few helpful tips the editors have put together.
When we ask competitors to fill out our Entry Form, we ask that they be thorough and tell us exactly what makes the product or technology innovative. Many entrants can find this a daunting task. But it’s not. In fact, it can be very helpful in determining how to market a product, or pursue further development.
R&D 100 Entry Tips
1) Read the Entry Form. We’ve shortened the form this year to make it a little easier for potential competitors to determine if they can enter the Awards. Just a quick reading of the form should tell you whether it’s the right avenue for you and your new technology.
2) Don’t discount your product. Almost any useful new product or technology needs plenty of R&D work. That’s what the R&D 100 Awards is all about—it’s not just high-end instruments and exotic materials. Past winners have included prosthetic devices, food packaging and consumer-level cameras. These are everyday items that have competed for the top prize and emerged a winner along with electron microscopes and high-end solar cells.
3) Sell your technology. Okay, so it’s not as crucial as a presentation before potential investors, but the Entry Form should be your forum for pitching your product. You and your team worked hard to get it to market. The Entry Form should communicate this effort and commitment. The judges want to know what the product is, but they also want to know how you did it. Impress them!
4) Talk to the whole team. Too many entries reflect the knowledge and viewpoint of only one part of the team or collaboration that developed the product. Some entries, in fact, are prepared only by a public relations team. This often does a disservice to the technology and the hard work of the principal investigators, technicians and engineers. Talk to the whole team and get input from everyone. Otherwise, important innovations could be overlooked by our judges.
5) Be creative. As you submit your entry, think of ways to make it more becoming to the judges. Technical plain text is the most important to judges, but sparking it up with some images (when necessary) gives our eyes a rest and your entry a creative, but informative flare.
6) Go beyond. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth? It’s never been easier to create simple but helpful videos that describe how a product or technology works. Just a 30-sec or 1-min video spot can do a lot to communicate the importance of your new product and the R&D work that went into it. If necessary, create one with a smartphone, upload it to Youtube and add the link to the Entry Form. Trust us, it helps.
7) Write the Entry so that will be easy to read! Some technologies are extremely complex and it’s tempting to show how much work was involved by including all of the development work. We’ve seen entries that have included entire patent applications and detailed differential mathematics. This is not necessary. Our expert judges are busy professionals and volunteer their time; write the Entry to get their attention and hold it. Stick to the important points and make sure they see the big picture.
8) Be honest. While your product may be innovative and a market-changer, the judges still want to know how your product compares to your competitors. Make sure your competitive matrix is honest in showing the benefits, the similarities and the deficiencies of your product vs. those much like it.
9) Don't assume, explain. One of worst mistakes that can be made when entering the R&D 100 Awards competition is failing to explain why your invention is so important. Give us some context. If your catalysis technology reduces the need for platinum, tell us why: A precious metal like platinum is prohibitively expensive. If your imaging probe avoids damaging live cells, tell us how important and difficult it has been to study living tissue in detail. Your product can be successful for several reasons; don't overlook them in the Entry Form.
10) Ask us. Too often, people simply assume their product does not qualify because they think it is too old, too new, too mainstream, or not "innovative" enough. Or, they get hung up on a single question that they find difficult to answer. Our advice: Don't give up. If you run into trouble, reach out to R&D's editors and get an answer. We expect plenty of questions and are always available at: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rdmag.com or www.rd100awards.com .Getting the right answer will help us and help your Entry.