However, rarer still is the realisation of these innovative ideas, the vast majority failing to even get started. This begs the question – what is the difference between the innovative ideas that are not realised and those that are? I suppose this is the million dollar question.
Let’s start at the beginning and consider the fundamental question – What is innovation?
Innovation can be a new method, a new idea, or a new product. Successful innovations are the result of carefully considering the market, consumers, and the technology available to meet missing requirements. As described by Matt Ridley, innovation is when ‘ideas have sex’. It seems like an odd description at first, however, it seems to be very accurate. The convergence of ideas leads to a ‘sweet spot’ in which successful innovations are born. Therefore, communication and knowledge input are essential for innovation.
This is just the beginning of the story. Transforming ideas to action and bringing the innovation to market successfully is what makes innovative pioneers like Microsoft, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs so unique. The key to achieving this over and over again is innovation management.
What is innovation management and how does it help innovations succeed?
In its essence, innovation management is to look ahead, be creative, and imaginative to create solutions, before competitors have realised there is a problem. However, there is no strict step-by-step guide to producing a successful innovation. In some cases, the idea is the starting point around which the required processes are conducted. In other cases, a problem is identified and ideas are developed in an open forum until a final idea is born. In all cases, the cornerstone of a successful innovation is management. The task of management is to guide the idea to the market.
Innovation management in the real world
According to Microsoft relying on a few individuals to create innovations simply doesn’t work. Therefore they have implemented the Microsoft Innovation Management framework, which consists of five primary sub-processes to innovation – Envision, Engage, Evolve, Evaluate, and Execute. The processes represent an iterative cycle as products and business models are continuously innovated upon during their lifecycles. Thus, this process is aimed at refining and preparing innovative ideas into successful products and services.
This is supported further by Capgemini’s innovation leadership study, which confirms the need for innovation management by showing a direct correlation between formalised innovation governance and innovation success rate.
Therefore, it can be said that a successful innovation, whether generated internally (management, staff, company policy) or externally (market trends, consumer demand), is the result of implementing a clear and transparent management process. A process that creates an atmosphere that promotes and nurtures great ideas from all sources and gives them the support required to be successful.
A key factor in innovation development is funding. Larger enterprises can make funds available at the right opportunity, the same cannot be said for start-ups and smaller companies. Unfortunately, for smaller companies and individuals funding is the most common stumbling block on the road to developing their innovations. it is through acknowledging this that the EU has initiated channels for funding to support innovations, from early conceptual stages to commercialisation. Through the EU and other funding mechanisms lots of funding channels are available for early stages and the later stages, however, the stage between research and development and the market is still underfunded. This stage has now become known as the ‘valley-of-death’. The SME Instrument scheme is set up to address precisely this gap, providing the necessary funding to promote developed ideas into the market. The SME Instrument also provides much needed business coaching and networking allowing the best chance for success.
At GAEU we are experts in accessing SME Instrument innovation funding, it is our aim to help your innovations become a reality and cross the ‘valley-of-death’ between R&D and commercialisation. Businesses thrive on creating innovative products and services for new markets and we thrive on seeing them become successful.
Dr Muhammad Adeel Irfan
R&I Funding Specialist
Best Practices for Innovation: Microsoft’s Innovation Management Framework –http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/8/4/F841D604-D0FC-481E-BE84-FF55D93099C4/Microsoft%20Innovation%20Framework.pdf.