The future of technological development, and the importance that this has for economic prosperity, demands an improved flow of advanced materials from the laboratory to commercial reality. This process is too often hindered by high-investment requirement, long payback times, uncertainty, and hence perceived low returns and high risk. Overcoming the problem demands a reconsideration of the material-supplier--user relation, methods of business management and investment concepts. Successful exploiters of advanced-materials technology need to address both short-and long-term markets and opportunities, which together will provide the required cumulative business growth and create `options for the future'. This demands special management structures that ensure that the development and funding of products, technologies and markets are distinct from the day-to-day operations. It is also dependent upon the adoption of investment-valuation techniques that move away from traditional timescales to take account of the value of new business options created, and the consequent profit potential in the long term.