LSI Business Planning

Helping you get started

The creation of an Innovation hub or Large Scale Initiative (LSI) is an evolutionary process that can take years in the making and vast amounts of effort targeted to enable the translation of research outcomes into commercialised products, services and value chains. They are often initiated for disruptive technologies that will ultimately result in a paradigm shift. LSIs can comprise of shared state-of-the-art facilities, staff with specialist expertise, large enterprise, small firms, start-ups, incubation facilities, investors, government bodies and a network of linkages resulting in the formation an innovation ecosystem.

The role of public funding for the set-up or continuation of an LSI is essential. Private investors such as banks and venture capital firms can be very reluctant to invest at the early stages of an LSI and will be more interested in financing the subsequent commercialisation of target outcomes and spinouts. At this stage the risks are relatively low. As such LSIs can help to bridge the gap between research and commercialisation activities.

As they evolve, LSIs tend to go through five strategic phases:

  • Preparation – vision created, partnerships formed and investment secured
  • Initiation – funding accessed, facilities established, community activated
  • Stabilisation – expansion, renewal of partnerships, commercialise outcomes
  • Continuous growth – challenged to create further added value
  • Termination – core technology become mainstream

Below are some tools that will help you to learn more about planning the development and growth of LSIs:

LSI Business Plan Elements

The LSI may start as a fresh start-up, formed by embracing existing open access facilities or indeed the renewal of a LSI as it approaches the Termination phase. Continuous growth hence demand an evolutionary approach and organic strategy that is responsive to the changing needs of the ecosystem, markets, industry, government and society. As such LSIs have to yield economic and societal impacts often at regional and national level as well as generate commercial opportunities for businesses and industry. The development of a Business Plan for LSI needs to take into consideration and integrate seven key aspects:

  • Connection to Society,
  • Vision, Mission and Unique Selling Point
  • The environment with respect to stakeholder needs
  • Core services to be provided
  • Organisation and governance
  • Funding sources for facilities and operation
  • Investment Plan – income and costs ensure gaps are mitigated

The Business Plan

It is important to identify the type of research that will be addressed by the LSI, the scope of the LSI with the initial stakeholders, as well as the added value for society and the economy at large. The connecting element of the foreseen projects should be identified. A business and investment plan should be with a modular approach.


The Financial Plan

The set-up of a multi-annual budget is essential for the formulation of an investment plan. The ratio between private and public funding of projects depends on a variety factors, the most important ones are: stage in lifecycle, position in the innovation chain, sector structure and type of research addressed.


The Business Model Canvas

LSIs in general seek research driven modalities for the income they want to generate. But a multi-model approach, with non-R&D based activities such as consultancy, intellectual property, advisory, incubation and/or training services is critical in ensuring outcomes, impact and financial sustainability.