Cyberdyne: A Leap to the Future
Cyberdyne Inc. was a Japanese technology venture that wanted to commercialize a hybrid assistive limb (HAL). HAL was a robotic exoskeleton system for people who had difficulty walking due to nervous system disabilities resulting from stroke, spinal cord injury (SCI), and intractable neuromuscular diseases. In a person with neuromuscular disorders, signals transmitted from the brain to steer muscle movement had become weak, causing ambulatory difficulty. HAL could noninvasively read faint signals that leaked to the skin's surface and amplify them, which drove actuators to assist limb movement. Thus, HAL enabled the person's brain to relearn how to walk, as HAL could reinforce the neurological system's transmission. To market HAL in the U.S., the world's largest medical device market, Cyberdyne submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was eagerly awaiting approval. The case concentrates on Cyberdyne's go-to-market strategy to market and sell HAL in the U.S. once it had obtained FDA approval. The case considers sales channel structure-a choice between a direct vs. an outside sales force-and other accompanying marketing-mix elements-in particular, price-as well as target-market selection, to understand ways to bring a technologically innovative product to market in a business-to-business (B2B) context.