Natalie Chapman is on a mission to make sure brilliant research and inventions are shown to the world and released to the market, instead of languishing because of a lack of understanding of marketing.
Natalie, who is one of the most powerful women in STEM, founded gemaker to provide researchers and innovators with advice, services and training to commercialise new knowledge and tech.
gemaker helps develop everything from satellite laser beams for super-fast data to digital tourniquets building bigger muscles, drones that protect wildlife from bushfires, bionic ears made by 3D printing, and high-tech shrink wrap for damaged roofs.
"We work with these aweome inventers who are fantastic with research and inventions but we need to get their work into the right hands for it to be taken up. So we help get their innovation out of the lab and into the market so we can be building new industries," Natalie says.
"Our role is to try to accelerate that happening by connecting the right people and ensuring people have the right skills and experience in the first place,which is why we train researchers in how to engage with industries better. It's also about bringing marketing into the process."
"I've been working on tech tranfer, which is getting research out of universities, for 20 years and one thing that is almost completely lacking is the fact that it doenst matter how awesome an invention is; it doesn't get out into the world without marketing."
"It's critical to teach researchers, and also industries, how to market themselves. It's changing peoples' thinking and perception of research and inventions as it involves working with clients across research industries, but also the startup community too."
Natalie believes the topic of marketing is critical and yet it is a conversation that is missing across those important conversations about commercialization.
"Everyone is wanting to know all about the tech and 'How awesome is this tech?' But if nobody knows about it or if nobody actually wants to pay for it, then it's not going to get out there and it's not going to be successful. So that marketing element is absolutely crucial," Natalie says.
Natalie is also determined to show girls and young women that being a scientist is far from being a job where you’re stuck in a lab all day. She’s calling for more women to consider working in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Manufacturing).
“A science degree can be a lot of fun. It’s fantastic for understanding the world better and learning how to solve complex problems, analyse situations, think logically, and base your opinions and decisions on facts,” Natalie says. “A science degree can take you anywhere. You might end up in research, or you might work in industry, create a start-up, or become head of product development or CEO in an established company, or you might seek to influence science policy and end up as President…anything is possible.”
For more girls to consider STEM, Natalie says much of the way it’s taught at schools needs to be changed. While students are taught “the basics,” Natalie believes much of that can be boring for kids; and it doesn’t need to be.
“For a change in mindset to occur, it needs to start in primary schools, and continue in colleges, through to researchers. It doesn’t take much to make science fun and exciting. I also want to make sure students in science are learning about marketing and commercialisation early on and that scientists are talking to each other,” Natalie says.
“I want to see more students actually taking up the combination of science marketing or science business subjects. Science doesn’t just lead to an academic career; you can run your own company. There’s very little visibility in the media of people doing science except for academics and I’d like people to see that it is possible to move between academia and industry.”
"I want people to understand that people studying science are not 'stuck in a science lab' – they’re growing knowledge-based businesses around the world."
For gemaker the message is clear; marketing is not understood very well across academia and even business.
"It starts with solving a market need, asking industry what are the issues in the first place and if your research is solving those problems; then you are clear about who is then wanting to take up your invention. The good news is this means the process of getting the research and inventions out into the market, a lot easier," Natalie says.
"Time and time again there has been a great idea and people behind it have been asked to sell it to industry. But that is not the way you sell anything. You can't simply be pushing things onto people and I don't believe anyone in any industry likes something just shoved onto them. But if someone talks to you about what problems theyre encountering , and that you've found a way to solve it, they will pay for it in a heart beat."
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