What is business innovation?
Business innovation consists of finding new ideas and implementing new processes, products, or services to promote new value and growth. This is achieved through being open to new ideas, and then establishing a decision-making and strategic plan to implement the change. Innovation is not only about creating new methods, processes or products, but also about improving existing ones.
There are three models of business innovation:
Industry model innovation - whereby the business considers its industry model to establish a new innovative way to market their products by redefining the chain value, or moving to a different industry, or by creating a new industry altogether, which will be aligned to their mission and vision.
Revenue model innovation – whereby the business reorganises the services it offers and reviews its pricing strategy and the customers they wish to target. That is, they may make changes to their supply chain, sell to new customers or change the prices of their products.
Business model innovation – whereby the business comprehensively reviews its business model, i.e. its business processes, strategy, mission statement and technology. It may also search to leverage partnerships or outsourcing non-core activities.
Why is innovation vital?
There are three main reasons why businesses may turn to innovation, and these are:
Innovation to grow your business and therefore increase your profits. Without innovation your business may stagnate or die.
Innovation to remain ahead of the competition. In today’s world competition is rife and businesses are becoming very savvy to compete against each other. Innovative thinking and horizon scanning will allow your business to keep apace with the market and respond to your customers’ needs. As already discussed, if you do not innovate, other businesses will fill the gap and you will be putting your business at risk.
Innovation to utilise the benefit of new technologies. Technology, particularly artificial intelligence and 3D printing, is changing the world faster than ever before. Taking advantage of new technology will allow you to create better and more products and services, better market your business or better track your performance through analytics, thus optimising your business and gain a competitive edge over your competitors.
Innovation plays a role in business change and transformation
For innovation to be successful, businesses must bridge the gap between design and delivery, by putting in place strategic initiatives that will lay the foundation. Strategy is therefore at the heart of change and transformation. However, no business would function without its people, and it is important that you surround yourself with talents.
Many change and transformation initiatives have failed because those involved did not understand, believe in, or engage the process. It is therefore crucial to engage with your staff who will fuel and sustain the change and transformation.
Finding funding for innovation
Applying for an innovation grant may help your business achieve its goals. Innovate UK, an innovation agency, provides funds and supports businesses to realise innovation. However, competition for grants has never been more intense. Writing compelling grant applications is hard and time consuming. Many applications many fail so do not lose faith; persevere. Here are a few pointers:
Make sure your innovation will solve a specific problem.
Ensure your problem statement describes the impact the issue has on the community, how your solution will solve that problem and why it is urgent that the problem is solved.
Validate your arguments with strong data and powerful examples.
Research, research and still research.
Present your solution in a storytelling format to entice empathy and elicit rapid action to solve the problem.
Carefully read the grant application form and provide all the information requested. This will prevent your application being rejected.
Review your application before submitting it.
Like many things in life, there is a right time to innovate and apply for funds. To be successful, you must not hesitate to involve your staff in the process.