Innovation is risky business – embrace the risk in your business

The pearl diver
The pearl diver fighting the beast – a metaphor for the fear of innovation risk.

To innovate, you must embrace the risk. If it wasn’t risky, it wouldn’t carry the rewards.

Were the diver to think on the jaws of the shark, he would never lay hands on the precious pearl. – Saadi, 13th Century Persian Poet

You’ve already taken entrepreneurial risks by being in business. Don’t stop at business as usual. To survive in a competitive world and grow your business, you must increase your appetite for innovation risk.

“Don’t stop at business as usual. To survive in a competitive world and grow your business, you must increase your appetite for innovation risk.”

Businesses are rewarded for taking risks to innovate. If the innovation you have in mind isn’t risky enough, others can also do it and so the rewards would be small.

Innovation needs to carry enough risk to be considerably challenging for others to copy, and so, if successful, reward you sufficiently for the effort and risk you’ve taken.

Your innovation should give you a competitive edge. If it doesn’t and there’s no obvious commercial gain from your innovation, then you should seriously question if it is your business that should be doing that work.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of innovation, particularly the financial costs associated with it. There are ways to share financial risks through sharing the cost of innovation with collaborators, and through using grant funding or soft loans. We can help if you need help with innovation risk management strategies, with finding collaborators, and with funding.

We have experience in forming collaborative partnerships, developing projects out of ideas, helping to identify end-user applications, working on product development, and putting forward proposals to funders and investors.

Please get in touch with us using the form below.

Do you understand your innovation engine?

“Every organisation needs to understand their innovation engine – and you all have one, whether you realise it or not …”

Do you understand your innovation engine?

Innovation is every organisation’s engine for being more efficient and productive, for growth, for serving their existing customers better, for attracting new clients and for doing what they do better and better.

Every organisation needs to understand their innovation engine – and you all have one, whether you realise it or not – and here is a list of questions to ask yourself to help with this:

  • What are your innovation engine’s mechanisms – funding, roles, divisions, processes, tools and templates?
  • What fuels your innovation engine?
  • How often is it tuned up and who is the chief tuner or innovation guru?
  • How do you measure your innovation engine’s performance?
  • Do you have a competitive engine and do you actively compete with your rivals in innovation?
  • How much is your innovation engine internally focused and how much is it externally focused?
  • How do you identify innovation opportunities (competitions) to race your engine in?
Tune up and race your innovation engine

We can help you to understand and improve your organisation’s innovation engine by helping to formalise methods, identify opportunities, set up and manage an innovation funnel, pick innovation champions, and run a continuous innovation programme and strategy – rather than a start/stop programme with discrete, disconnected projects.

Please get in touch with us using the form below.

Do you have an innovation funnel?

Do you have an innovation funnel?

Most businesses have a sales funnel. They formalise sales teams and divisions and use (mostly) formal methods to strategise, to create and manage sales leads and opportunities. They have a sales funnel and are constantly focussed on sales and identifying sales opportunities – after all, that’s why they are in business.

What about innovation? How much focus should an organisation have on innovation? And how much effort should you put into establishing innovation as a mainstream activity using innovation management methods?

“Just as you have a sales funnel for constantly pursuing sales opportunities, you must also have an innovation funnel for constantly pursuing innovation opportunities.”

Our answer is to undertake as much innovation as you can. Just as you have a sales funnel for constantly pursuing sales opportunities, you must also have an innovation funnel for constantly pursuing innovation opportunities. Not every innovation will lead to a new product, some may just help with productivity by rearranging the furniture – yes, seriously! But every organisation should care as much about innovation as it does about sales.

We can help you to identify innovation opportunities, set up an innovation funnel, select methods and tools to manage it, and run a continuous innovation programme and strategy – rather than a start/stop programme with discrete, disconnected projects.

Please get in touch with us using the form below.

Don’t wait to innovate!

The world of business and technology is moving faster than ever before. No sooner have consumers and businesses gotten used to a new app, device, and technology enabled process or channel for travel, dining, shopping, etc., than a new one appears to replace it. In this agile world, technology evolves fast, and those that don’t embrace the change and don’t keep up are at risk.

While large corporations have dedicated subsidiaries and divisions focussed on innovation and R&D, smaller businesses, start-ups and charities are often embroiled in the day-to-day running of their businesses and the occasional, or sometimes usual, firefighting. They have little or no capacity to innovate, to create, to develop.

Innovation is the means to create value, to improve, to become more efficient, productive and to reduce waste. To stick to the status quo in this world is to shut down business sooner or later.

Our questions to you: are you innovating? Is innovation a priority in your business? Can you keep up with the competition and your customers’ expectations?

If you answered no to these questions, we can help you to identify opportunities and catalyse innovation and move forward. Please get in touch using the form below for a consultation.

Old infrastructure for new technology – what is the price of innovation?

We have just completed a project that highlighted the classic Innovator’s Dilemma – if you haven’t already, please read Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Our work highlighted barriers to the development and uptake of disruptive compound semiconductor technologies, critically, the lack of purpose built, optimised processes and foundry equipment. Considerable research in this area depends on old infrastructure and processes used for silicon semiconductors. Until industry invests in new infrastructure, progress in compound semiconductor innovation will be slowed by incumbent processes and infrastructure.

The question comes up again and again: what is the price of innovation? Should you continue milking your cash cow and continue with small-step evolutionary innovation? Or should you take a bigger step and invest in step-change, revolutionary innovation that will benefit you in the longer term?

We can provide market and competitor analysis and intelligence to help you. Please get in touch using the form below.

Energy Harvesting is needed for the Internet of Things

Much effort has been spent on developing technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT). From wireless communications, to web registries of connected sensors and devices, to Big Data technologies for the streams of data from these sources, to various protocols and ontologies.

In our opinion, the vision of the IoT, that of ubiquitous sensing and actuation with Big Data mediated intelligence, depends on energy harvesting. In particular, fit-and-forget IoT sensors and devices depend on a continuous, long-term or indefinite source of power.

While larger, more accessible nodes can benefit from power from the grid and more conventional renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic and wind powered generators, smaller sensors and devices should take advantage of a combination of power storage, i.e. batteries and capacitors, and micro-scale energy harvesting. Sources of energy for micro-scale energy harvesting include vibration, electromagnetic, tensile and compression forces, biochemical, chemical, heat and light.

We have worked on appraising energy harvesting technologies and work with a number of independent Associates with years of experience in energy harvesting technologies and applications.

If you have a need for energy harvesting technologies, or are developing energy harvesting technologies and need innovation and commercialisation services, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below. We can put you in touch with stakeholders and collaborators, help with finding project funding and provide a range of innovation and project management services.