This platform (Virtual Cluster Initiative) was launched to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with a state of the art solution allowing them to present themselves on the Internet, professionally, as well as, in future-oriented way.
Innovation is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways.
Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.
Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.
Organizations can improve the quality of innovation through Kirton’s thinking style Adaption-Innovation Inventory and measure the effectiveness by applying a Balanced Scorecard as put forth by Kaplan and Norton.
Business and economics
In business and economics, innovation is the catalyst to growth. With rapid advancements in transportation and communications over the past few decades, the old world concepts of factor endowments and comparative advantage which focused on an area’s unique inputs are outmoded for today’s global economy. Economist Joseph Schumpeter, who contributed greatly to the study of innovation, argued that industries must incessantly revolutionize the economic structure from within, that is innovate with better or more effective processes and products, such as the shift from the craft shop to factory. He famously asserted that “creative destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.” In addition, entrepreneurs continuously look for better ways to satisfy their consumer base with improved quality, durability, service, and price which come to fruition in innovation with advanced technologies and organizational strategies.
One prime example is the explosive boom of Silicon Valley startups out of the Stanford Industrial Park. In 1957, dissatisfied employees of Shockley Semiconductor, the company of Nobel laureate and co-inventor of the transistor William Shockley, left to form an independent firm, Fairchild Semiconductor. After several years, Fairchild developed into a formidable presence in the sector. Eventually, these founders left to start their own companies based on their own, unique, latest ideas, and then leading employees started their own firms. Over the next 20 years, this snowball process launched the momentous startup company explosion of information technology firms. Essentially, Silicon Valley began as 65 new enterprises born out of Shockley’s eight former employees.
In the organizational context, innovation may be linked to positive changes in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitiveness, market share, and others. However, recent research findings highlight the complementary role of organizational culture in enabling organizations to translate innovative activity into tangible performance improvements.
All organizations can innovate, including for example hospitals, universities, and local governments. For instance, former Mayor Martin O’Malley pushed the City of Baltimore to use CitiStat, a performance-measurement data and management system that allows city officials to maintain statistics on crime trends to condition of potholes. This system aids in better evaluation of policies and procedures with accountability and efficiency in terms of time and money. In its first year, CitiStat saved the city $13.2 million. Even mass transit systems have innovated with hybrid bus fleets to real-time tracking at bus stands. In addition, the growing use of mobile data terminals in vehicles that serves as communication hubs between vehicles and control center automatically send data on location, passenger counts, engine performance, mileage and other information. This tool helps to deliver and manage transportation systems.
Still other innovative strategies include hospitals digitizing medical information in electronic medical records; HUD’s HOPE VI initiatives to eradicate city’s severely distressed public housing to revitalized, mixed income environments; the Harlem Children’s Zone that uses a community-based approach to educate local area children; and EPA’s brownfield grants that aids in turning over brownfields for environmental protection, green spaces, community and commercial development.
Sources of Innovation
There are several sources of innovation.
According to Peter F. Drucker the general sources of innovations are different changes in industry structure, in market structure, in local and global demographics, in human perception, mood and meaning, in the amount of already available scientific knowledge, etc..
Also, internet research, developing of people skills, language development, cultural background, Skype, Facebook, etc.
In the simplest linear model of innovation the traditionally recognized source is manufacturer innovation. This is where an agent (person or business) innovates in order to sell the innovation.
Another source of innovation, only now becoming widely recognized, is end-user innovation. This is where an agent (person or company) develops an innovation for their own (personal or in-house) use because existing products do not meet their needs. MIT economist Eric von Hippel has identified end-user innovation as, by far, the most important and critical in his classic book on the subject, Sources of Innovation.
In addition, the famous robotics engineer Joseph F. Engelberger asserts that innovations require only three things:
The Kline Chain-linked model of innovation places emphasis on potential market needs as drivers of the innovation process, and describes the complex and often iterative feedback loops between marketing, design, manufacturing, and R&D.
Innovation by businesses is achieved in many ways, with much attention now given to formal research and development (R&D) for “breakthrough innovations.” R&D help spur on patents and other scientific innovations that leads to productive growth in such areas as industry, medicine, engineering, and government. Yet, innovations can be developed by less formal on-the-job modifications of practice, through exchange and combination of professional experience and by many other routes. The more radical and revolutionary innovations tend to emerge from R&D, while more incremental innovations may emerge from practice – but there are many exceptions to each of these trends.
An important innovation factor includes customers buying products or using services. As a result, firms may incorporate users in focus groups (user centred approach), work closely with so called lead users (lead user approach) or users might adapt their products themselves. The lead user method focuses on idea generation based on leading users to develop breakthrough innovations. U-STIR, a project to innovate Europe’s surface transportation system, employs such workshops. Regarding this user innovation, a great deal of innovation is done by those actually implementing and using technologies and products as part of their normal activities. In most of the times user innovators have some personal record motivating them. Sometimes user-innovators may become entrepreneurs, selling their product, they may choose to trade their innovation in exchange for other innovations, or they may be adopted by their suppliers. Nowadays, they may also choose to freely reveal their innovations, using methods like open source. In such networks of innovation the users or communities of users can further develop technologies and reinvent their social meaning.
Many scholars claim that there is a great bias towards the “science and technology mode” (S&T-mode or STI-mode), while the “learning by doing, using and interacting mode” (DUI-mode) is widely ignored. For an example, that means you can have the better high tech or software, but there are also crucial learning tasks important for innovation. But these measurements and research are rarely done.
A common industry view (unsupported by empirical evidence) is that comparative cost-effectiveness research (CER) is a form of price control which, by reducing returns to industry, limits R&D expenditure, stifles future innovation and compromises new products access to markets. Some academics claim the CER is a valuable value-based measure of innovation which accords truly significant advances in therapy (those that provide ‘health gain’) higher prices than free market mechanisms. Such value-based pricing has been viewed as a means of indicating to industry the type of innovation that should be rewarded from the public purse. The Australian academic Thomas Alured Faunce has developed the case that national comparative cost-effectiveness assessment systems should be viewed as measuring ‘health innovation’ as an evidence-based concept distinct from valuing innovation through the operation of competitive markets (a method which requires strong anti-trust laws to be effective) on the basis that both methods of assessing innovation in pharmaceuticals are mentioned in annex 2C.1 of the AUSFTA.
Several indexes exist that attempt to measure innovation include: