The research canvas is a science communication tool. It allows you to talk about your research to a broad audience of professionals; not just your fellow researchers. This professional audience can include anyone that is a stakeholder in the innovation processes that relate to your research such as - but not limited to - product designers, market researchers, financial analysts and business developers.As such it has to be written in a language that can be understood by your colleagues and professionals that are not experts in your domain but who will work with you to drive innovative based on your research.
The research canvas provides you with a single page poster format that captures the key elements and unique differentiators of your research. it allows you to look at your research from many different angels such as the alternative solutions to your research question, legal implications (intellectual property) and practical applications.The poster format talks about you: Who are you and what is your background?It also describes the context of your research and the research questions that you are trying to solve. Next, it summarizes the solutions that you are exploring and how these compare to alternative ways of solving similar research problems.Finally, it captures the intellectual property aspects of your work.
The goal of the research canvas is to collect as much feedback as possible from a very diverse audience as this is the most efficient way to identify opportunities for the application of your research. Transferring science results to society or to businesses requires the input and feedback from people with many different backgrounds.Multidisciplinary teams are a key to the successful implementation of research driven innovation. The research canvas as a tool in this innovation process enables this by making people with different backgrounds understand what you do.
Research driven innovation is team work as is this opportunity recognition p1_workshop. During the workshop, you will work in small groups with peers from different research areas. In your group you will have to get familiar with each others work, give feedback and find new insights.The best way to get started as a team is to tell something about yourself:Where do you come from? What is your background, your education and what is your dream? Do you want to become a top scientist in the academic world? Is it your ambition to become the CTO of a high tech company or do you plan to start your own company one day?
The context of your research explains in which domain you execute your research, the type of research and how it is organized and managed.It should give your audience a first idea of the big picture of your work.The research domain should be as specific as possible without being to technical. For example EXAMPLE ON SLIDE.The type of research indicates for example whether you do fundamental research, applied research or contract research. Also tell us something on how your research is organized: Do you work in a small focused local team? Is your work part of a large research project with international partners or do you do joint research with industry?
Expressing the research problem in 2 sentences is probably the biggest challenge of this exercise. However, remember what Leonardo da Vinci said about this: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication !”The example in this slide can serve as a good guideline. It does not talk about the complex challenges in the physical and chemical domain of new materials research but it rather relates the research to tangible or know problem areas that a broad professional audience can associate with it.
Next you have to tell something about the solutions you are looking at. Tell us how you plan to solve the problems. Which functions do you implement in your solution?Here you should emphasize the unique differentiators of your work. What makes your approach unique?Again he example from the solar energy project can serve as a guideline. Lets have a look at the functions and the differentiators of this project.The first statement: “We produce solar cells prototypes using a different semiconductor material then silicon: CIGS. “ is very clear.The function is to produce solar cells and the unique differentiator is the fact that it uses a new material other then silicon.The second statement is even stronger with respect to the uniqueness of the process: It allows cheaper production processes.The third function explains that based on this research we can now produce solar cells in different forms or formats. Reading this, I already think of a couple of very nice applications and opportunities - and I am not a new materials scientist or even a solar energy expert!
When you are talking about the new approaches and the innovative solutions of your research work, you should always stress the uniqueness of your work. What makes it so different?What makes it special?This is what captures peoples attention and will make them start thinking about how your unique differentiators can be beneficial to their own environment. This is how creative solutions are born. Try to identify at least 2 or 3 unique differentiators in your research and explain why they are so unique.Lets have a look again at the example form the solar energy research:The usage of new materials and new production processes has 2 unique differentiators compared to existing technologies:The solar cells can be deposited on any kind of carrier or substrate, even plastics.The production is done in continuous processing and not in discrete steps – this allows for higher volume production and lower costs.
As a scientist you are very well aware about other research in your domain. Research teams in other universities or countries may be trying to solve the same or a similar research problem using different approaches. By providing a short overview of the alternative solutions to your research problem, your audience will be able to position your solutions with respect to other initiatives.This will not only allow them to compare the solutions but it can also provide inspiration on how to improve your solution.Alternative solutions in the solar energy project includes amongst others the fact that the classical solar cells can continue to improve or by inventing new production processes for them. You should also keep an eye on approaches and technologies that solve the same problem in a completely different way: If wind energy becomes much cheaper then solar energy it may completely overtake the solar energy market.
The last part of the research canvas covers the intellectual property that is generated by your research.This has 2 dimension:How and in what form are the research results captured and Who is the owner of this intellectual property?IP comes in many different forms: It can be protected by new patents that your research organizations plans to file or it can be copyright on software programs, data or designs.Open source software is also a form of IP that allows you to share your work with the research community and depending on how it is generated and the type of license will provide a certain level of protection.You also need to identify who is the owner of the IP. If you are employed by a research organization, they can be the owner but if you work in a consortium with many partners the IP will probably be shared amongst the participants. For the purpose of driving innovation based on your research it is important to know who owns the IP.
The research canvas
The Research Canvas
Opportunity recognition WORKSHOP
This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0
Collect feedback about your
research from a multidisciplinary
“It is impossible to identify the opportunities for applying your
research if people do not understand what it is about.”
Who are you?
Tell something about yourself :
This is me !
Do not limit it to work only:
• Where do you come from?
• What is your background, education … ?
• What do you want to do 5 years from now?
Provide a link to your LinkedIn profile !
The context of your
Describe your research domain
and give us the big picture of
• I research the semiconductor
properties and the photovoltaic
behavior of CIGS for BIPV modules.
• CIGS: Copper indium gallium (di)selenide
• BIPV: Building Integrated Photo Voltaic
Now try this:
• My research domain is in
new materials research and its
applications for solar energy.
• We research the performance
of new types of solar cells and
their production process.
The research problem
What is the question you are trying to solve?
• How do we make solar energy economically feasible
and more scalable?
• The performance of solar cells is to low: only 15% to 20% of the
incident solar energy is transformed into electrical energy.
• In addition the production process is not efficient:
it requires many steps and high energy.
• This combination makes investments in solar energy not economically
feasible and the cost of solar energy is today higher then wind or natural gas.
Here you have to describe what you have or
do and how you plan to solve the problem.
• We produce solar cells prototypes using a different
semiconductor material then silicon: CIGS.
• It is a semiconductor that allows different and
cheaper production processes.
• The production process allows to create solar cells in many different
forms and formats and could be integrated in building materials such
as metal foils, tiles and façade decoration.
Position of your
What are the technological differentiators
of your solution?
Try to identify 2 or 3 unique differentiators, tell us why
they are unique and how this can be measured or proven.
• CIGS solar cells can be deposited on any type of substrate
from metal foil to plastics. As such they reduce the installation costs
of solar power installations with at least 50%.
• The production of CIGS solar cells can be done in continuous
processing. This allows for better scaling and higher production
volumes at lower prices.
What other ways are there to solve
the same problem?
• Improvements to the classical solar cell that can already reach 25%
• New production processes for classical solar cells.
• Advances in wind energy.
Intellectual property (IP)
can come in different forms:
• Copyright on software,
• Open source software
You need to know who is
the owner and what you need
to do to use this IP in your
Solar energy patents.
• The production process of the
new solar cells is protected by
a family of patents shared
between the university and a
• We will need an exclusive
Prepare and upload a first draft of your research canvas
PRIOR to the workshop