There is a commonly used saying that “Research is about turning money into knowledge” and “Innovation is about turning knowledge into money”. Governments generally define research as activities that entail technical risk. In other words, there is no guarantee of a useful outcome. Governments the world over provide research funding clear in the knowledge that there may be no commercial result, but none the less, developed nations place research high on their must do agendas. However, research is usually a long term activity, seldom embraced by Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) that need quick wins and short time to market.
Innovation entails little risk Innovation on the other hand is an activity that if done properly can be done with very little risk at all. Generally Governments provide handsome subsidies for businesses wishing to embrace innovation in terms of product development. Further, in Australia there are also handsome subsidies for companies that wish to have their staff learn and experience the tools of innovation and opportunity capture. These tools are of course aimed at inspiring innovation and commercialisation to bring innovated products to the market with little risk of failure. Innovation or Creativity? One of the barriers to innovation lies in the confusion between real innovation and opportunity capture and so called art of creativity. This latter term is somewhat abstract and perhaps may be better confined to the arts and entertainment rather than real hands on innovation.
Understanding the difference is paramount in developing an innovative culture. To embrace so called “creativity” may result in all sorts of “hair brained” activities that may be fun in the workplace but seldom produce real value added low risk innovation. Take advantage of the offerings The knowledge that the government provides assistance for both research and innovation activities is not all that widely known by may SME’s. I suggest companies get to know of these generous packages, take advantage of what is available and innovate, or perhaps tomorrow you may be extinct.
Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to one of the world’s largest consulting firms.