Archive for December, 2009
The word “innovation” is more often than not associated with technology or science. However in⋅no⋅va⋅tion [in-uh-vey-shuhn] in the pure sense of the word can mean two things:
- Something new or different introduced: numerous innovations in the high-school curriculum.
- The act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.
This means that innovation can be applied in every different field. Entrepreneurship is one of those fields. The process of starting or running a business venture has seen a lot of changes recently. A lot of these changes are technology driven, meaning that new new technological advances (or the mainstreaming of existing technologies) drove innovative changes in this process. Previously running or starting a business venture followed a more or less set pattern; you had an idea, worked out a business-plan, invested some of your money and time to develop the product/service, found some customers and then got some outside funding. Work was mostly based in a office or at meetings.
Nowadays things have changed a lot, yes you still need an idea to start out with however the advancement of technology combined with a decrease in costs have lead to a situation where a software start-up can develop an application and have a 1st release out of the door and available to the general public in 6 months or less. Irish start-up Auctomatic for instance was developed into a market ready service in mere months through a stint with new style incubator Ycombinator. Auctomatic went on to be bought by Live Current Media. This clearly illustrates that with a good idea and very little money you can crank out a first release product quickly and stake your claim in the market. Another major change is that working in teams and collaboration on a project does no longer mean that all members need to be in the same location at the same time. Online collaboration tools such as those offered by ZOHO, Google Apps, Microsoft Sharepoint and others allows people to work on the same venture form different locations across the globe. Combine this with cheap audio & video conferencing service such as those offered here and you can bridge geographical & timezone gaps. This allows for instance for coders to work on changes recommended by a product designer while the designer is asleep in a different timezone. Productivity is kept at a maximum when working like this.
Another thing that changed is the location where work is carried out. the wave of new powerful portable devices (netbooks, smartphones etc) and the increased ubiquity of wireless broadband (wifi, wimax, 3G/UMTS etc.) have made it possible to work from almost anywhere with an Internet connections. Especially now that a lot of the software tools are hosted in the cloud. This has also led to an increase in hot-desking & co-working facilities. Entrepreneurs want to work wherever they can and whenever they want. No longer do they want to be tied to an office of boardroom. Work can be done in public spaces and meetings can be setup on an adhoc basis in whatever location is suitable and nearest.
Interaction between entrepreneurs has also changed. Like the actual work it’s no longer office bound. Interaction takes place in a less formal way, Open Coffee Clubs, Linkedin Groups, Facebook, Blogs and other online interaction are the preferred networking methods. The approach to networking has changed also, no longer is it about the hard sell. Networking has become about sharing knowledge & information which could eventually lead to a sale or business deal but the focus has shifted away from this as the primary goal.
These trends will continue and evolve throughout the next decade. We will see more and more new ventures. Some of these will fail quickly but the short run-in period will allow entrepreneurs to ramp up projects quickly and often. The low costs of starting a new venture will also mean that an entrepreneur can start up multiple projects and test these in real market environment without requiring large investments or commitments. People will have multiple projects/ventures running concurrently and will stick with those that prove the most successful. In all the whole process of doing business will become much more fluid and fast as a whole.
Posted on December 31st, 2009 by admin
Geo-spatial factors in innovation are very important. It is why regional planners are obsessed with cluster formation. There is a chicken and egg metaphor. Clusters do not happen spontaneously and work needs to be done. On the other hand a seed does need to blow in from somewhere. CAST’s open day demonstrated this.
Case Example: The concentration of electro-optical industry and development in the area of Saint Asaph in north Wales originated in the decision of Pilkington, the glass company in the late 1950’s to build plant in the area because they could guarantee a stable labour force. Diversification and joint venture in hit-tec laser based optics a decade later sowed the seeds of a highly qualified labour force that could both spin out in their own right and attract other new companies into the area.
The arrival of a significant multinational in your neighbourhood is both a rare event and also no guarantee of success as many inward investment support packages have demonstrated. Yet the power of clustering is clear –you create an ecology. Managing eco-systems are always best when you are working with what you already have – like drawing on the strength of neighbouring universities or existing industry. However creating new micro-climates is not impossible – however to stretch the biological metaphor a bit, you need complimentary planting, the right nutrients and in best practice you needs plants that are symbiotic or provide good association like fixing nitrogen or repelling predation.
CAST’s open day was intended to showcase the incubating companies to external visitors – however it probably had a more important function – finding out what the people, who normally taking lunch next to you, are doing. When you are a start up there are a number of things that can present difficulty that knowing you have good neighbours can help. There are several possibilities:
As a start-up you need customers – your neighbours may be your first customers or you may be theirs. You neighbour’s customers may also need your offerings. Their marketing might be your marketing.
As a start-up you need flexible and skilled human resource – maybe that flexibility can come from sharing and loaning or even recruiting.
As a start-up you need to be sure of good value and reliability from your support services (accounts, IP lawyers etc). Trading this knowledge is what makes a business ecology.
Inventorium has a job to ensure to create the opportunities to interact with your neighbours for mutual benefit.
Posted on December 15th, 2009 by MOwen
Can we be methodical in applying imagination? Cynefin is a framework for knowledge management. It is a method for thinking about how to find solutions to problems. This provides Inventorium, an open innovation project, with a tool to help its stakeholders.
Posted on December 15th, 2009 by MOwen
Never has there a more important time to innovate.
- The public sector needs to get better value
- Competition demands better quality and value
- The ways of the customer are changing
Never has there been a better time to innovate
- There are more ideas around
- There is a wealth of cheap technology
Posted on December 8th, 2009 by MOwen