"Innovation Processes for SMEs: Moving from Serendipity to Strategy," Leslie Martinich and Mila Božič, ECIE, 6th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2011.
One of the barriers to innovation in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is the lack of internal infrastructure to support the acceleration of innovation. In this paper we show how SMEs can use an Innovation Council to improve their effectiveness in commercializing innovations. The mechanisms and processes of an Innovation Council include idea generation, providing education for the project teams about the radical innovation life cycle, setting expectations, helping team members to accept ambiguity, forecasting technology futures, recognizing and evaluating opportunities, developing a fast track screening process and a fast track intellectual property process. In addition, the Innovation Council maintains an Innovation Repository, and regularly evaluates the ideas and projects. They define the Innovation Metrics appropriate to their business and manage an effective Innovation Portfolio.
Innovation Metrics provide strategic direction for innovation activities within the business and guide the allocation of resources. We offer a sample of metrics.
When an innovative idea is approved for initial funding, the Innovation Council forms a project team with team members with the necessary skills and helps them advance the project through stages.
The Innovation Council holds a quarterly Innovation Roundtable, a meeting with 10-20 people, four to eight presentations and a chance for cross pollination of ideas.
Many large enterprises use the mechanisms and processes of the Innovation Council. This paper describes the mechanisms and processes appropriate for SMEs, adapting the processes to fit a smaller organization.
This presentation provides the scaffolding and structure for creating an Innovation Council within a business with fewer than 250 employees, with explicit roles and responsibilities, most of which are already done on an ad hoc basis. SMEs can adopt this set of processes without adding headcount. Moving the organization from an ad hoc approach to innovation, to a structured process, moves it from serendipity to strategy.
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