Applying CLT’s proprietary incubation support planning tool

Client: Multiple public and private sector clients


It is challenging to identify what kind of incubation support would be most useful to an SME. There are a range of support tasks that can be delivered but it can be difficult to select the best ones and ensure value for money.


CLT has developed a proprietary set of incubation planning tools that let us identify strengths and gaps in a venture’s commercial development and prioritise the support that will fill the gaps. This ensures that the venture’s development is accelerated as fast as possible and that the time and money spent on incubation is used wisely.

CLT’s proprietary toolkit makes incubation support planning robust, reliable, and measurable. Our process is used by incubation planners to determine what areas of commercial support would be most beneficial to a company. CLT’s tool is considered to be the best practice standard for SME incubation planning.

Anchored by a clear framework that defines each stage of a venture’s commercial and technical development, we use a diagnostic tool and menu of incubation tasks to target support at the most valuable areas.

Framework for commercial and technical development stages

Commercial and technical development is a continuum. Technical development is commonly divided into 9 stages, running from Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1 to 9. CLT has developed a parallel Commercial Readiness Level (CRL) framework that is linked to each TRL. There are 9 CRL levels, each of which have milestones that can be used to measure progress and identify gaps that need to be filled to de-risk the next stage of a venture’s technical and commercial development.

Incubation planning diagnostic tool

CLT’s tool assesses eight capability areas, including:

  1. Market segmentation and size, competitive analysis and industrial partnering
  2. Business development, pipeline and sales
  3. Strategy and business planning
  4. Technology and Intellectual Property
  5. Product design, development and differentiation
  6. Supply chain, procurement and manufacturing
  7. Team, Board and HR processes
  8. Fund raising, financial planning and investment readiness

Our tool has over 300 questions designed to ascertain a clear and comprehensive picture of a company’s CRL level and progress against each of these areas.

Prioritising incubation support

Each company’s commercial progress is calibrated against the performance milestones that a venture should be expected to have achieved according to its level of technical readiness. For example, if a venture’s technology is at TRL 5, it should be able to demonstrate commercial capabilities equivalent to CRL 5 milestones across all eight capability areas. This analysis identifies the unanswered commercial questions for the venture, and helps the incubation planner prioritise next actions and potential areas for support.