State-of-the-Art in Innovation Evolution

This blog post is a draft response to “Section 1 Soundness of the Challenge / Section 1.1.1 Description of the State-of-the-Art” in the technical annex of the planned COST 2019 Open Call Proposal Reference: OC-2019-1-23678 "Open European Network for Enterprise Innovation in High Value Manufacturing (ENTOV-HVM)". The image is drawn from the Wikipedia entry on “Diffusion of innovations” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations, accessed May 2nd, 2019) as put forward by Everett Rogers in 2003 (see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett_Rogers, accessed May 3rd, 2019). The blue curve describes the degree that various consumer groups adopt an innovation and the yellow curve describes the market share of the innovation. This is similar to the “Technology adoption life cycle” also discussed by Everett Rogers (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_adoption_life_cycle, accessed May 2nd, 2019).

“This proposal seeks support to nurture the collaborative evolution of ideas (innovations and challenges) between COST Member Countries and COST Target Inclusiveness countries through the innovation life cycle. A special emphasis of the proposal is enabling rapid growth of early majority adopters in high value manufacturing industry in COST Member countries. A simple example for an innovation might be a 3D metal printing innovation developed as part of PhD research at a Latvian university which is industrially tested / explored in the facilities of an aerospace manufacturer in Germany. A simple example for a challenge might be the difficulty of using smart cameras in dirty forging cells of a British vehicle parts manufacturer which is researched by a Czech PhD researcher collaborative with a technology park aligned to the relevant university, whereby the solution flows back for industrial testing.”

State of the art for the transition of ideas from innovators and early career researchers in universities and research institutions represents a fragmented picture which differs significantly not only from region to region, but also in relation to the type of innovations and research efforts involved. From a high value manufacturing perspective the state of the art for infrastructure might be best reflected in partnership structures between industry manufacturers, machine / supply chain partners and universities in the form of advanced manufacturing centres with associated technology parks. Examples are NIST (https://www.nist.gov/tpo), the partnership approach by the technical university of Munich (https://www.international.tum.de/en/international-alliances/partner-universities/) or Rolls-Royce (https://www.rolls-royce.com/about/our-research/research-and-university.aspx).

Within these infrastructures a plethora of transition support and guidance mechanisms are available as well. Within this perspective we need to differentiate between the views of industry, the views of (non-) governmental research and funding organizations, and the views of the actual innovators and early career investigators. The current proposal is focused on the latter that typically seek guidance from their supporting academics and dedicated research institute offices. In both cases these innovators and early career investigators are faced by significant challenges in not only identifying suitable innovation processes, but also in the shaping of their opportunities for relevant consumption and then also the management of that consumption process on the path to adoption.

Based on a review of the state of the art it is evident that while many formal structures exist to support the innovator and / or early career investigator the actual progression through these remains a mystery for many if not most of the involved stakeholders so that personal relationships become critical enablers and progress in itself becomes an emergent phenomenon.
Tomorrow´s posting will address the challenge addressed by the proposal based on the difficulties encountered by innovations when moving from early adopters to early majority. The central concept is “Crossing the Chasm” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm, accessed May 3rd, 2019) as put forward by Geoffrey Moore in 1991 (see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Moore).

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