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Choosing the Right New Product Development Laboratory Partner

Innovative thinking, experimentation, and creative ideas are the foundation of product development and new product design. When it comes to planning the development of a product, many choose to partner with an experienced product development lab.

Many scenarios can lead to the need to explore a partnership with a product development laboratory. For example, product refinements are needed to stay competitive in the marketplace, or as a result of recent turnover from experts in an R&D team. In other instances, innovators may be too close to the current product line and unable to effectively address and innovate around the problem. Experimentation without expertise can lead to frustration and costly delays, while expertise without experimentation can lead to stagnation.

The product development process is not one-size-fits-all. When it comes to choosing the best path forward in creating a product, multiple factors need to be considered. Likewise, when selecting the right new product development laboratory to work with to produce a high-performing product, there are many aspects to consider in this process.

Intellectual property ownership in new product development

Often intellectual property (IP) ownership is top-of-mind when evaluating potential product formulation labs. Contracts can be structured in a such a way that the transfer, assignment, and ownership of IP is clearly defined. Some products are unique enough to be patented, and if that is the case for your particular product, those discussions and conversations should be had during the early stages of evaluating potential R&D lab partners. If you do not yet have a relationship with a patent attorney, consider asking the product development lab for a referral. If the laboratory you are evaluating has a strong track record of success developing new and innovative products, they will likely be able to provide you with a referral to a patent attorney they have worked with in the past.

Communication is critical to successful product development

The product development and product engineering processes are iterative, meaning that multiple versions of products will be developed and modified based upon the desired performance metrics. Given the constant adjustments that come with product development, open and consistent communication is vital. A clear framework for communication and a single, primary point of contact are oftentimes key to a successful product development partnership. Although there will likely be several formulators, scientists, and experts working on a formulation, a single point of contact can help to ensure that feedback, ideas, and concepts are clearly communicated to all stakeholders.

Defining success in new product development

Defining success sounds simple, but this step can be overlooked. It is important that success criteria are clearly defined, well-documented, and agreed upon by stakeholders at each stage of product development. Element’s product development team has found during their years of partnering with customers to develop, reformulate, and improve upon a wide range of products, defining success criteria for each stage of the product development process is a best practice. Establishing a clear definition of what “complete” means ensures everyone involved is working toward the same goal throughout the course of the engagement.

Finding the right blend of experience and creativity

Selecting the right partner to help develop a product can be overwhelming for anyone who is not familiar with the process. Taking the time to define and understand your needs and goals, as well as research potential contract labs, is fundamental to success. Likewise, understanding the approach and formulation team structure at a product development laboratory is essential.

At Element, we foster an environment that allows our team to be innovative. Our team’s blend of experience and intellectual humility, knowing there is always something left to learn, allow for rapid onboarding of projects and a thorough understanding of the unique needs and goals of each of our customers.Our formulators work as a true extension of our customers' teams, collaborating and asking thoughtful questions that promote innovation by challenging the status quo or convention. Element blends the benefits of seasoned subject matter experts with hungry to learn and successful staff to push beyond standard constraints and conventional thinking. Good ideas are always cultivated, and customer input guides the development process via clear communication regarding formulation samples and product performance data. While we love being creative and experimental, some customers need our support, resources, and expertise to bring common or emulated products to the market quickly. We have the awareness to recognize when to push boundaries and redefine markets, and when to provide industry-leading support to bring high-performing standard products to market quickly.

Bring successful new and innovative products to market with Element

We have purposefully designed our formulation development practice and team in a way that allows us to expertly support a wide range of formulation needs, ranging from the complex to everyday essentials. Our ability to design proven models for discovery and deliver new formulations in an efficient and timely manner is the foundation upon which our comprehensive formulation development and wrap-around services have been built. Whether you are looking to bring a new and innovative product to market, improve upon an existing product, shake up product lines, or find efficiencies in process and raw materials that can lead to cost savings, our teams of formulation scientists stand ready to partner with you.

Start the conversation today to explore a partnership with Element.

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Dan Stevens, Manager, Innovation, Element Materials Technology

Dan Stevens has deep expertise in the development, optimization and characterization of  polymer nanocomposites, especially in gas barrier and flexible electronic/thermoelectric applications. With his expertise in materials characterization, thermal analysis, and mechanical properties of composites, Dan applies it in developing novel and high-performing formulations for a wide variety of applications, including industrial materials, paints and coatings, and over the counter (OTC), consumer, and household products. Dr. Stevens received his Ph.D. in materials chemistry from Texas A&M University where was a co-author on a total of 9 publications. 

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