Dr. Marcel Müller
November 9, 2022

Do you have an Innovation Radar?

Introduction to an Essential Tool for Innovators

Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful organization, allowing companies to stay competitive and differentiate themselves from their rivals. But with so many new ideas, technologies, and solutions hitting the market every day, it can be challenging for corporate innovation managers to determine which ones are worth investing in. That’s where the Innovation Radar comes in.

What is an Innovation Radar?

The Innovation Radar is a set of tools and concepts designed to help identify high-potential innovations important for a company's research and development activities. It helps classify existing innovations on the market, put them into the context of a company’s goals, and identify critical areas to explore further. This can be done through data analysis of news, patents, scientific literature, innovation projects and proof of concepts. Yet the most critical skill needed for a successful innovation radar is experience and farsight.

An Innovation Radar is embedded in a process that allows companies to effectively filter out unimportant information and focus on ideas that have direct relevance to their business strategy. By having an unbiased view of the innovation landscape, companies can make better decisions when allocating resources toward research and development projects.

The Innovation Radar also helps companies draw connections between seemingly unrelated fields or technologies and develop innovative solutions that were previously unknown or impossible. By connecting the dots between different disciplines, teams can uncover unexpected opportunities that may have gone undetected otherwise.

Conceptually, every innovation identified with the Innovation Radar has three dimensions: scope, pace and impact. Scope looks at the breadth of innovation possibilities in a given field or sector and helps determine where to focus efforts. Pace measures how quickly technology and solutions evolve over time and gives insights into which ones are worth pursuing now versus later. Impact looks at how different innovations can drive customer value or solve a market problem. By looking at these three dimensions, corporate innovation managers can better understand the ever-evolving landscape of innovation and act with greater certainty when taking on new projects.

How to create your Innovation Radar?

When implementing an Innovation Radar, the first step is to collect data from internal and external sources. This includes news articles, scientific publications, beta tests of new innovative tools and exchanges with subject matter experts on the topic.

The "supply side", i.E., what new innovations are out there always has to be set into the context of the "demand side". This includes customer demand, market analysis and competitor research to see where the current pain points are. Once the data has been collected and analyzed, corporate innovation managers can begin to create a picture of which solutions have potential. They should look for ideas or technologies that match their business objectives, as well as ones that could provide added value for customers or solve a problem in the market.

Once these high-potential innovations have been identified, innovation managers can apply additional filters to further refine the list. This could include assessing the cost of implementation versus potential return on investment, or understanding whether existing resources would be suitable for adapting the solution. Additionally, they should consider any environmental or ethical implications associated with any new innovations they are pursuing. With this comprehensive evaluation process in place, corporate innovators can ensure they make decisions with greater confidence and clarity.

Innovation Radar: In-house vs. Outsource vs. Hybrid

When it comes to building an innovation radar, there are three main approaches that organizations can take: in-house, outsource and hybrid. In-house essentially involves building the entire innovation process from the ground up with a team of internal experts, while outsourcing involves engaging external contractors or competence centers to assist with certain aspects of the process. The hybrid approach combines elements of both in-house and outsourced models, allowing companies to access specialist expertise while maintaining control over the process.

In-house can be a great option for organizations that want flexibility, scalability and complete control over their innovation processes. On the downside, this model requires access to experienced subject matter experts that are not completely biased by an organization's day-to-day operations and resources dedicated to managing the innovation radar. Additionally, there may be internal blind spots or skills gaps that need to be filled in order for the project to reach its full potential. This makes creating a 100% in-house innovation radar in times of shortage of skilled experts very challenging.

Outsourcing is advantageous for companies who want access to specialist expertise when they do not have enough in their own teams. It’s also useful for organizations that have limited internal resources or do not have the time or capability to manage an innovation radar themselves. However, as with in-house, this model comes with its own set of risks — chief among them is losing control of the overall direction of the project and a lack of transparency around costs and contractual arrangements.

At the Center for Deep Tech Innovation, we advocate for a hybrid approach. The hybrid approach offers an effective middle ground between full internal development and total outsourcing by combining elements from both models. This allows companies access to specialist expertise while still maintaining control over areas such as strategic alignment and resource allocation. Additionally, working with partners already familiar with best practices helps speed up delivery timescales so projects can start yielding results more quickly.

Taking action with the Innovation Radar

The Innovation Radar is becoming an increasingly popular tool as businesses strive to stay ahead of the competition in this ever-evolving world of technology and innovation. As more data becomes available and innovations in Deep Tech become more sophisticated, businesses have to utilize these powerful tools if they want to gain an edge in a dynamic global landscape. No longer constrained by traditional ideas or constraints, teams now have access to unlimited possibilities that could be explored with this powerful toolset at their fingertips. What will your Innovation Radar Look Like?

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