Need to Knowledge Model for Commercial Devices

The NtK Model includes three Phases — Discovery via Research, Invention via Development, and Innovation via Production.  Each Phase contains discrete Activity Stages and Decision Gates. The NtK also includes opportunities to conduct knowledge translation to improve communication and information sharing between parties in academic, industry and government sectors.

PHASE I — Discovery

Generating Conceptual Discoveries through Scientific and Market Research Methodologies

The Discovery Phase (Activity Stages and Decision Gates 1 through 3) necessarily begins with the conduct of primary and secondary market research activity to validate an unmet need of end users (e.g., persons with disabilities), and to define the need in the context of a problem amenable to a technology-based solution (Stage & Gate 1). The next task (Stage & Gate 2) is to assess the feasibility of deploying some envisioned product interventions as a solution to the defined problem. After the problem and solution are both defined and validated, the Scientific Research methodology may then be applied as necessary (Stage & Gate 3) to fill in any critical knowledge gaps with new-to-the-world findings. The Discovery Phase compiles knowledge from market, business, and technical analyses, scoping reviews of existing scholarly literature, along with or findings from original scientific research studies. The problem and solution set are defined in the context of an underlying need as defined by the target group which is intended to benefit from features/functions of project output. These targeted consumers/customers must be involved from the beginning and throughout the process.

Stages and Gates 1 through 3


PHASE II — Development

The Development Phase (Stages and Gates 4 through 6) first involves establishing a business plan for the envisioned product defined under Phase I — Research.

In Phase II — The engineering development methodology is then applied to transform the Phase I output (knowledge in the state of a conceptual discovery) into new knowledge in the state of a tangible prototype invention. This transformation occurs through design, building and testing procedures involving end users and approved by other relevant stakeholders. 

Stages and Gates 4 through 6


PHASE III — Industrial Production

The Production Phase (Stages and Gates 7 through 9) requires a shift to the application of Industrial Production methodology.

Activities include planning for all aspects of production — from manufacturing processes through after-sales service — and the execution of activities related to test marketing, launch, and on-going monitoring of the product and market conditions. Project leaders and partners need to ensure participants have the appropriate skill sets and experience to implement all of these required activities. The Production Phase output is new knowledge in the state of a Commercial Innovation deployed in the marketplace.

Stages & Gates 7 through 9



  • At each gate the PI must check to ensure that the goal is still novel, feasible, and useful, that the PI's role will make a meaningful contribution and that there is a link between the PI's role and the ultimate goal. If not, the PI must terminate or reiterate.
  • Throughout every stage the PI or partner will either be allocating existing internal funds, or seeking external financing (grants, venture capital, etc). An inability to obtain financing either by failing to meet internal criteria required for the allocation of funds, or by failing to obtain external financing will terminate the project.
  • Although not depicted as such, this is an iterative process. A no-go decision at any gate may result in termination of the process or reiteration of many or all previous steps and tasks.