Sunday, 29 November 2009

Innovation in the "low tech" sectors - Part I (introduction)

Think about the word "innovation". What is the first thing that pops into your mind? The latest mp3 paying gadget you got? Your new car? The vending machine just outside your office door? The H1N1 vaccine you are considering of having?

What about the bakery just around the corner? That new delicious wholemeal bread you tried the other day, does it count as one more piece of innovation?

Well, I think it does. I don't know whether for the baker that new recipe is part of his/her business model, in order to keep hold of or expand their clientèle, or rather a need to create something new, something tangible, something people can talk about. Being on the cynical side - typically, I would opt for the former.

I believe that innovation can appear everywhere. And that sounds like a good thing.

Innovation is not a new story either. It hasn't always been a buzzword; true. But it has been the never-ending push for something new that has brought us up to where we stand now, on terms of technology, economy and society.

So can this go on for ever? Policy makers push for more innovation (or "higher rate of innovation" - interested how one can measure innovation?) and money is invested into tools that can help one get to innovation (if starting from research), develop a protection strategy around it, protect it or exploit it. Is this necessary?

I don't know if the innovation machine can go on for ever. It has taken us that far, so I can't see it stopping any time soon. And, yes, innovation seems to be useful not only when it comes to financial competitiveness (also read "innovation economics") but also when it comes to sustainability. (Now this is a paragraph with the three hottest buzzwords of our time; innovation, competitiveness, sustainability.) You may be skeptical on that but keep in mind that it is successful innovation that may achieve any of those three. While all new innovative ideas are born to succeed, the challenge on individuals/ groups of individuals/ enterprises/ states is to see which of those will work and which will fail....

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