Government leaders across Europe and North America are seeking to formulate enlightened, effective policies to create the necessary Innovation and Entrepreneurial ecosystems and help their corporations respond to severe threats of loss of markets at home and abroad. The need to better commercialize public and private investments in R&D is well understood, but does not always happen as hoped for and mandated in well-intentioned protocols.
Hope is not a strategy. We know the European Innovation Engine may not be firing on all 8 cylinders and decisive action is required, particularly since competitor governments around the world are putting more of their muscle behind their drive for innovation.
Let’s go back to basics: Innovation = Invention + Commercialization
One reason that hopeful protocols fail to deliver the needed results is that Innovation is difficult, and requires teamwork among people of different disciplines. The inventors of breakthrough ideas are rarely well equipped to lead their inventions from the cool comfort of the laboratory to the cruel crucible of the marketplace. Even the best and brightest new breakthroughs need to be SOLD. Inventors need to team up with gritty, market savvy, workaholic entrepreneurs to translate their ideas into practice, quantify the value proposition, and find and convince early “beachhead” customers. The job is not complete until years later when the new invention becomes an accepted standard, and finally achieves total global domination of the carefully chosen market niche.
The Lisbon protocol in its various forms envisions top-notch inventors achieving innovation by commercializing their ideas. How will they seek out and be more easily connected to passionate entrepreneurs, and where will Europe’s next generation of entrepreneurs come from?
The challenge is palpable for both global and local corporations, as well as
government-funded laboratories. The pace of change and the need for rapid innovation has never been greater. Today the CEOs of the top companies in the so-called mature Western economies have few tools (and little time) to help them re-engineer their organizations to be more innovative. They lie awake at night worrying that faster, more innovative, lower-cost competitors are springing up every day, eager to take big bites from their cash cows and star performers.
Kenneth P. Morse
Co-director of the ESADE Open Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship Programme