Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I talk about innovation, you talk about innovation, but who is the one who innovates?

I was at a project meeting today, attended by our consortium members, all of which have something to do with innovation, business support or research and technology. Our objective (and biggest worry)? How to boost the rate of innovation uptake by companies. which translates into convincing companies to care about innovation.

You see, in principle innovation is considered to be associated with many good things, plus it sounds cool. But also it comes with a price tag. Understandably, in difficult times, like the ones we live in, investing in innovation is counter-intuitive. The instinct of survival kicks in: reduce costs, be vigilant on sales, brace yourself for further financial trouble.

Do tools exist to allow margin for (or simply, to make easier) investment on innovation? (Tools, like those simple methods to evaluate the knowledge potential of innovation or even schemes for aiding networking and dissemination like the Enterprise Europe Network, come to my mind). Is this the right time to test for a new technology?

These are the times when innovation goes high up on the business' wish-lists. This is particularly true for innovation that leads to higher productivity or lower production cost. I do believe, however, that we - at the country level - should be more determined to financially fuel innovation, although, I am aware of the risks behind such a move. While the move for supporting the financial backbone through the monetary support of a number of banks has been the typical choice across the globe (not an irrational thing to do, in any case), putting on the market additional funds for applied research or innovation would strengthen the knowledge-dimension of the economy and could potentially improve the recovery rate and lead to new advantageous assets (read: jobs, sustainability and future).

(photo: "PL-Gdansk/An Industrial SkyLine (2)", CC by Wilfrid)

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