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Value Proposition Canvas

What is the value proposition of your research?

Rural industries invest significant funds into research each year.  While not all research will have a commercial focus for its outcomes, some research will have commercial application and address a specific need or desired outcome of the industry.

To ensure that the research which aims to have a commercial application or develop a commercial product, has the best chance of success, matching what the researcher aims to achieve with what the industry wants is an important step towards commercial success.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition refers to a marketing statement that a company uses to summarise why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. The value proposition is the single most important thing that determines whether customers will be interested in your product or service. A great value proposition solves a customer problem as well as satisfying a customer’s needs. A value proposition may be developed for an entire are of research investment  or for individual products and services proposed to be delivered as outcomes from the research or by business.


How to Use the Value Proposition Canvas in Research

When it comes to investing industry funds into research that aims to have a commercial outcome, using the value proposition canvas can help researchers and R&D managers ensure that the research proposal directly addresses a problem or desired outcome the industry wants and will benefit from.  Using the value proposition canvas also ensures the researcher has a clear idea of the direction the research must go for it to be valuable to the industry and for the research to have the best chance of commercial success at the end of the project. It can be used to identify specific areas of research, as well as what needs to be measured to indicate success to the industry.


The Value Proposition Canvas

The Value Proposition Canvas has a mixture of elements that need to be considered when developing the value proposition of the proposed research. These elements include things such as;

  • performance;
  • customisation;
  • design;
  • price;
  • cost reduction;
  • newness; and
  • accessibility.

Each element of the value proposition is designed to cater to the requirements of a specific customer segment and highlight the benefits that the new product or service offers over existing practices or products used by the customer (competitive products and services).

When using the Value Proposition Canvas in the research setting, similar elements need to be considered to ensure that the research outcomes will address the problems or needs of the industry supporting the research and who, ultimately, should benefit from the research.

Once the Value Proposition Canvas has been completed the researcher should be able to outline the benefits of the research to the industry in a brief paragraph, explain how research aims to solve an industry’s problem and stress how the research is unique and better than previous research or current solutions available.

Some value propositions may be innovative and represent a new solution, while others may be similar to existing solutions but with additional features and attributes. Whether the research aims to produce an innovative product or improved outcomes does not matter. What matters most is whether the research is directed at the industry’s needs.

Research Proposal Challenges

Too often researchers are focused on what they perceive the challenge to the industry is rather than what the industry actually needs or is looking for. The best value proposition communicates the following clearly:

  • What the research is and what problem it aims to solve;
  • Who specifically will benefit from this solution and in what situation; and
  • How is the proposed research outcome is useful to the industry?

If those questions can be easily answered, then the research proposal has a greater chance of success in the industry’s eyes.

Identifying Needs using the Value Proposition Canvas

To help narrow down the needs and identify the problems of the industry, a value proposition canvas can be developed. Split into six categories, the canvas is an easy yet effective way to identify the key things a research outcome needs to do to be successful.  The categories are split between the customer, in this case the industry, and the business, in this case the researcher or research organisation. There are three categories covering the customer and three covering the product or research outcome.

Evaluating the needs of an industry is not always easy. A researcher may identify a solution they see as very important and of benefit to an industry but if the industry does not perceive a problem, uptake of the solution is likely to be very low regardless of how successful the research is in terms of solving a problem.

However, by using the Value Proposition Canvas, researchers are better able to identify and address the needs of an industry that the industry sees as relevant to themselves.

Customer Segment/Industry

The customer segment of the Value Proposition Canvas is broken into the:

  • Job-to-be-done;
  • Specific pains; and
  • Specific gains the industry desires when doing the job.

This section of the canvas asks all the questions about your customers that you need to know in order to solve their problem and provide the benefits they desire.

Job to be done

This section simply asks what job the industry is trying to get done. A job could be the tasks they are trying to perform and complete to achieve their desired outcome, the problems they are trying to solve, or the needs they are trying to satisfy.


Gains describe the outcomes and benefits the industry wants. Some gains are

required, some are expected, or desired by industry, and some would surprise them.

Questions like; what would make the industry happy, what outcomes do they expect and what would exceed their expectations, are questions that the gains category needs to address.


Pains describe anything that annoys industry before, during, and after trying to get a job done. Pains also describe risks or potential bad outcomes. Questions such as, what makes industry feel bad, and what are the main difficulties and challenges industry encounters, will help you think of different potential pains the industry experiences.

When done correctly, combining these three categories: job-to-be-done, the specific pains and specific gains, all the answers to questions on the industry needs which the research proposed should aim to solve, will be clearly illustrated.

Research Proposal and Outcome Section

Turning to the Research area of the canvas, this section is made up of three categories;

Product & service;

Gain creators; and

Pain relievers .

This section of the Value Proposition Canvas aims to address the gains and pains of the industry section with the research outcome of the investment.

Gain Creators

Gain creators describe how the research creates gains for the industry. It outlines how the research intends to produce outcomes and benefits that the industry expects or desires.

Pain Relievers

Pain relievers describes how the research reduces specific pains the industry experiences and outlines how the research outcomes intends to eliminate or reduce some of the things that annoy or cause pain to the industry when trying to complete the task identified previously.


By completing a Value Proposition Canvas researchers and R&D managers can be more confident that the research proposed for funding by the industry will meet the needs of industry stakeholders.

IP Active regularly reviews research proposals and assists with commercialisation of research outcomes. We consistently find that research that has been matched with industry need has the best commercial outcomes and the highest adoption rate.

If you would like a research proposal reviewed or assistance with commercialisation of research outcomes, contact us to discuss your project and how we can be of assistance to you.


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