Case Study

Specialty Chemicals New Market Entry

The Situation

A legacy-sector specialty chemicals company faced long-term contraction of its core business driven by the increased adoption of a new disruptive end-user technology.

The organization understood the need to diversify from its well-defended niche and set up a New Business Ventures group to explore adjacent and novel markets, both from a customer and technology perspective. The New Business Ventures Group asked ADL to evaluate nascent opportunities in 3D printing materials and to identify the commercial pathways for entering the relevant market. ADL was asked to help the company’s leadership make a deliberate yet rapid go/no-go decision on the additive manufacturing market opportunity in question. In the event of a “go” decision, ADL would be expected to assist in standing up the new line of business, with a particular emphasis on selling into the venture’s first customer.

ADL’s Approach

ADL’s team of experienced entrepreneurs led the client through the first two phases of its Monetizing Innovation​ framework: first assessing the feasibility of the market opportunity, then evaluating nine discrete commercial pathways as well as several synergistic combinations of those pathways, e.g. a combination of technology spin-ins and strategic partnerships. ADL’s commercial evaluation was conducted in conjunction with systematically mapping out the company’s unique internal politics to ensure that any ADL recommendation was feasible given the organization’s constraints.

ADL’s primary emphasis was market-driven. If certain technical or business challenges could be overcome, which markets would be primed for exponential growth? Alongside a market-driven emphasis, ADL also sought to solve the inverse challenge of identifying new markets for the client’s existing technology and capabilities. As such, ADL identified other market segments that would have a high probability of valuing the client’s chemistries. ADL leveraged its DOE-funded ​ProblemSpace​ platform to identify adjacent markets.


ADL helped this specialty chemicals company identify a range of market opportunities and commercial pathways, ranging from the novel (reminding the client of “flying cars”) to close adjacencies and creative iterations of existing products.

The iterative process of idea generation and evaluation allowed the client to distill the 3-4 factors that made a concept worthy, accelerating the evaluation process for this opportunity AND developing a set of parameters to be applied to new market entry opportunities across the client’s internal New Business Ventures group.

Although ADL has helped launch NewCos through the Monetizing Innovation framework (e.g. see the utility spinout of FieldNav), it is equally important to pivot away from opportunities that do NOT align with the key success criteria for a new venture. For ADL and our clients, creating flexibility and option value in the decision-making process is just as important to operational success as an immediate new product or company launch.

Due in large part to ADL’s Monetizing Innovation process, this specialty chemicals company is now able to more aggressively explore novel concepts for advanced materials that can deliver on a rapidly evolving set of COVID-related customer needs.