Gaining Market Share

Many companies misunderstand the importance of “University Marketing”…

The aim is to increase your company’s market share by creating a generation of developers who have an instinctive preference to use and design-in your technologies. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

But a function like this has a natural home in marketing, yet many companies put “University Programme” in R&D or HR, and staff it with academics and “geeks”. This shows they are mixing-up research and recruitment, with university marketing. These programmes can work when part of R&D or HR, but they work much better in their true home, alongside the marketing expertise and resources they need to harness.

The choice of which technologies to promote is harder still. Just because it is important to your company, does not mean that teachers will want to teach it.

Reconciling these twin objectives of encouraging the use of your technologies whilst satisfying the needs of a teacher who wants effective materials for their classes, is a difficult balance. We look at many academic projects run by commercial companies and hear the justification “it‘s good for our image”. To be honest, if it doesn’t win the minds of future customers, it’s money wasted. Raising awareness is never enough to justify the major investment that is a University Programme.

University Programmes work best for technologies which are "sticky": those where their use requires investment of time and effort to understand. This builds a deeply-rooted barrier to switching to products from others. Examples include Microsoft's Office, National Instruments' LabView, and Texas Instruments with DSP (Digital Signal Processing). In the semiconductor business, Motorola (now Freescale) were hugely successful doing this with their Microcontrollers (MCUs) in the 1990s, a space now occupied by Microchip. Under our guidance, MIPS pioneered the revolutionary idea of open academic access to a real-world processor core, and we showed a distributor (in this case RS Components) how they could build a preference to buy from them.

Leading Computer Science and Engineering courses need effective and convenient access to new technologies and the means to put them to good use. Most universities do not have enough manpower to keep the hands-on content of their courses at the leading edge, but to attract the best students and nurture the best talent, they need to find a way to regularly update their Labs. This provides an opportunity for technology companies to create future demand for their products by ensuring that every technology student graduates with an instinctive preference to use and design with their products. Capturing student mindshare early enables long-term sustained growth in market share.

Essaimage Associates are the world leader in how to do build effective University Programmes which deliver long-term gains in market share.

Creation of Teaching Material

Essaimage Associates has a unique record in the creation of Teaching Materials for Academic use. These are materials which enable a Lecturer to take a new technology and quickly build a series of Lab exercises around this technology, making it much more likely that a University will make effective use of the new technology. The key skills involved here, are the massive network required to yield suitable Academic Authors, definition and licensing of the contents, management of the development process, and thorough debug/proofing of the materials.

Recent examples are the award-winning Computer Architecture & System-on-Chip materials called “MIPSfpga” from MIPS (formerly Imagination), and the award-winning DesignSpark PCB and DesignSpark Mechanical materials for RS Components (Allied in the USA).

MIPSfpga provides an unobfuscated MIPS microAptiv softcore for academic use. It won the 2015 Elektra award for Academic Support, and has since won the approval of many teachers around the world. Today, these teaching packages have been licenced by over 700 academics, including many from leading institutions.

This precious expertise started in 1995 and developed across a generation. The first project was a “DSP Teaching Kit” written by the University of Hertfordshire (UK) which provided everything a Lecturer needed to run 5 different Labs on the basics of Digital Signal Processing. Over 4000 kits were sold at $199 each within two years! After two successful versions, this concept evolved into the free-of-charge "Teaching ROM" containing slides, course notes, back-up material, references and demo programs.

Teaching ROMs were produced for Texas Instruments' C2000 Digital Signal Controller (3 editions), C5000 low-power DSP (2 editions), C6000/OMAP-L138 DSP (3 editions), MSP430 low-power microcontrollers (2 editions) and Stellaris ARM Cortex M3 Microcontrollers (first edition).

A significant new addition was made in 2011, when a Teaching Kit for Analog Electronics was produced in collaboration with Texas Instruments India and MikroElektronika in Belgrade: "The Analog Systems Lab Kit, Pro"

We have facilitated the publication and dissemination of many different materials developed by leading academics, using a simple non-exclusive license agreement with the Universities. This is win-win for both University and Technology provider.

Recruitment & Research

An effective marketing-led University Programme enhances a company’s access to key talent, both for recruitment and the harvesting of bright ideas.

We believe that effective recruitment projects should be led by HR, but they need the market intelligence from a University Programme to decide the most fruitful targets.

Furthermore, an effective Internships programme can dramatically enhance recruitment prospects (check “Interns & Grads” section for details).

In our view, Research Projects need to be supported and guided by the company department which will most benefit from the ideas. It may be that the academic approach comes into the company through the University Programme (because of its visibility), but it is not their role to choose which projects to support. In essence, if a company business unit values the idea sufficiently to want to fund it, you have a good basis for a research project. But it’s a trawl of a massive “sea of ideas”: for every 100 approaches, the likelihood is that only one gets funded.

We have extensive experience in facilitating this process effectively. It is not easy because, amongst those 100 ideas all clamouring for support, may be that “nugget” that could transform your competitiveness in an existing business, or provide the IP foundation for a completely new business.

It is a bit like Polydor and Decca turning down the Beatles, and they then went to EMI!

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