Innovation education programs: toward a conceptual framework

Abstract

Purpose – Innovation education has been identified as a key contributor to enhancing the innovative behavior of individuals, organizations and economies; yet very little literature exists on the development and assessment of innovation education programs (IEPs). This is particularly so in the higher education and vocational education domains. The purpose of this paper is to bridge the gap in the literature, by proposing a conceptual framework of a multi-dimensional IEP. Design/methodology/approach – The paper employs a transparent and reproducible procedure and critical appraisal of the literature; coupled with emergent inquiry and case study implementation of a leading international IEP. Findings – The study provides a framework by which innovation education facilitators may develop and evaluate their IEPs. The proposed framework provides a thematic appreciation of the multi-dimensional relationships between components. Research limitations/implications – Limited within the context of this case study, geographical context and scant literature on IEPs and reproducible procedure. Originality/value – The study provides a conceptual innovation education framework, based upon a successful international innovation management program.
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Enabling collaborative innovation – knowledge protection for knowledge sharing

Abstract

Purpose – Collaboration for research and development (R&D) and innovation among various organizations can be beneficial and in some cases even imperative, but in order to realise the potential, effective management is required. Effective innovation requires firms to share their core knowledge, and simultaneously make sure that they will not lose their core knowledge and future competitive advantage. In line with this, this study aims to clarify the role of knowledge protection in relation to collaborative innovation endeavours.

Design/methodology/approach – This study approaches the knowledge protection and knowledge sharing issues through a literature review and subsequent empirical analysis of 242 Finnish companies.

Findings – The results indicate that when a firm has put effort in getting strong protection at its disposal, sharing knowledge with varying partners is more likely, which, in turn, improves innovation performance of the firm. It is not just about the strength of protection, but also – and even more importantly – using it efficiently that counts.

Research limitations/implications – The data are collected from one country only, with its specific features, and thus further research might reveal more on the studied phenomenon. Also utilising more detailed measures might reveal more.

Practical implications – This study augments both theoretical and managerial perspectives as it discusses a variety of protection mechanisms. In particular, it offers managers a new way of approaching the means of knowledge protection for innovation-related collaboration.

Originality/value – This study shows that a wide range of knowledge protection mechanisms can be relied on, and that strategic use of these mechanisms improves knowledge sharing and innovation performance.
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An organizational competence model for innovation intermediaries

Abstract

Purpose – This paper addresses the role of intermediaries in open innovation networks in achieving ICT
enabled innovations. The ultimate goal of open innovation networks is to create value for endusers and providers, and to share the risks and rewards. The aim of this paper is to analyse the
competences that intermediaries in open innovation networks need to master and exploit
during the exploration and exploitation phases of an innovation process. Design/methodology/approach – Based on fourteen cases, all of which are examples of collaborative multi-party projects with a
focus on ICT-enabled innovations, we inductively develop a competence model for
intermediaries that can be applied at different stages in the innovation. Findings – Our research shows that intermediaries can play an effective role in open innovation, provided
they have the right set of competences. it can be concluded that the role of innovation intermediary is most relevant in the creation and development phases.Research limitations/implications – This study certainly has its limitations. The researchers were involved in several cases, which may have biased their views, even though an external expert who was familiar with the case and the work of the intermediary was involved to minimize the risk. Most importantly, the cases all involved of a single intermediary, albeit with many different private and public partners. The cases were primarily located in the Netherlands. It would be interesting to complement this study with results from other innovation intermediaries.Practical implications – We identified which competences of organizations in innovation are required, and how to balance the competences between the different partners, including the innovation intermediary. The study allows to link the type of goal of the collaboration to a number of best practices, including the competences and roles that are required at different stages.Originality/value – We combine the core innovation competences with the innovation value chain concept
developed, and evaluate the resulting model in fourteen different cases. The model is new and
relevant in practice.
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Integrating risk management in the innovation project

Abstract

Purpose – While innovation has many similarities to other forms of projects it is characterised by a high failure rate and the need to stimulate creativity. More explicit risk management could help in achieving success in innovation projects. However, too much or inappropriate risk management might stifle the creativity that is core to innovation. So, what project risk management should be applied and where in the innovation project?Design/methodology/approach – A theoretical framework is proposed which combines the generic innovation process with project risk management. The framework was used to analyse the current attitudes to managing innovation risk in a series of companies.Findings – The decision points of the stage-gate innovation process model provide an effective interface for incorporating project risk concepts. The general concepts appear most relevant to innovation management though it is useful to customise them to emphasise the particular characteristics of innovation projects. The experience of using the resultant combined model in a number of diverse case studies indicates the relevance of the model in understanding attitudes towards risk management in innovation. The analysis of the case study companies suggested that risk management needs to be applied in differential manner: simple, unobtrusive techniques early in the innovation life cycle with more substantial, quantitative methods being considered for later stages.Research limitations/implications – It would be useful to extend this research by examining more case studies from other countries and industries.Practical implications – The combined innovation and risk management model provides a framework that diverse companies can appreciate. The framework offers a basis for discussing the most appropriate form of risk management in different innovation based industries.Originality/value – Although there are many separate models for innovation and project risk management described in the literature, there is very little discussion about explicitly combining these theories. This paper aims to help fill this gap in the knowledge.
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Product innovation processes and the trade-off between product innovation performance and business performance

Abstract

Purpose – This paper is concerned with the management and organization of product innovation processes, and how innovation performance relates to business performance. The underlying rationale is that encouraging firms to innovate will lead to a better business performance. Design/methodology/approach – This study leverages a data-set of 99 medium-sized technology firms in Sweden. The first part of our analysis in this study aims at finding determinants of product innovation processes, and the second part is the analysis and trade-off between innovation performance and business performance. First, a research framework is developed in which the link between strategic dimensions, process dimensions, and organizational dimensions of product innovation activity and product innovation performance is tested. Second, the research framework tests the relationship between innovation performance and business performance (sales and profitability).Findings – Product innovation performance (patent) is affected by seven variables of the 14 variables that represent product innovation processes. Product innovation performance is not affected by firm size, firm age, branch, and product life cycles and, in the regression model, all three innovation performance variables (patents, copyrights and licenses) have a positive effect on the firm´s sales, but there were no connections to the firm´s profitability. Originality/value – The main implication of the study is the idea supporting a multi-aspects approach to the product innovation processes and performance since product innovation process dimensions (variables used in the study) have only partial influence on innovation-/business performance.
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Complexities in innovation management in companies from the European industry: A path model of innovation project performance determinants

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an integrated framework of complex relations among innovation characteristics, organizational capabilities, innovation potential and innovation performance. Design/methodology/approach – The model is tested using partial least squares (PLS) modeling and 22 high- (96 respondents) and 16 (93 respondents) low-performing innovation projects from nine companies from the European industry. Findings – The results show that the level of innovativeness of the project is an important determinant of product potential, whereas the complexity entailed in innovativeness entices integrative communication among innovation project team members. As expected, projects which are new to the company are related negatively to adequateness of the existing functional capabilities of the firm. The negative effects can be mitigated through integrative communication capabilities. Management can foster communication and knowledge integration through adequate databases and communication structures as well as social relations. Also, higher project potential and successful project performance can be attained through focus on product superiority and quality but also on speed of product introduction into the market. Originality/value – An integrated framework which includes innovation characteristics, organizational capabilities which bring together project execution proficiency and synergy of firm capabilities with the innovation project, as well as innovation potential and performance is absent in the existing literature. The absence of an integrated framework may be the reason why still a large number of innovation projects result in failure. The emphasis on management of complexities in innovation in the paper requires the focus on the under-explored effect of innovativeness and newness of innovation projects on the functional and integrative communication capabilities of firms. While studies which focus on the synergy between firm capabilities and the innovation project regard mainly the functional capabilities, the inclusion of also the integrative communication capabilities allows the present paper to integrate the synergy view with the view that proficiency of project execution is decisive for innovation project performance (Harmancioglu et al., 2009).
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ASU, Georgia Tech create breakthrough for solar cell efficiency

New atomic layer-by-layer InGaN technology offers perfect crystal

Did you know that crystals form the basis for the penetrating icy blue glare of car headlights and could be fundamental to the future in solar energy technology?

Crystals are at the heart of diodes. Not the kind you might find in quartz, formed naturally, but manufactured to form alloys, such as indium gallium nitride or InGaN. This alloy forms the light emitting region of LEDs, for illumination in the visible range, and of laser diodes (LDs) in the blue-UV range.

Research into making better crystals, with high crystalline quality, light emission efficiency and luminosity, is also at the heart of studies being done at Arizona State University by Research Scientist Alec Fischer and Doctoral Candidate Yong Wei in Professor Fernando Ponce’s group in the Department of Physics.

In an article recently published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, the ASU group, in collaboration with a scientific team led by Professor Alan Doolittle at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has just revealed the fundamental aspect of a new approach to growing InGaN crystals for diodes, which promises to move photovoltaic solar cell technology toward record-breaking efficiencies.

The InGaN crystals are grown as layers in a sandwich-like arrangement on sapphire substrates. Typically, researchers have found that the atomic separation of the layers varies; a condition that can lead to high levels of strain, breakdowns in growth, and fluctuations in the alloy’s chemical composition.

“Being able to ease the strain and increase the uniformity in the composition of InGaN is very desirable,” says Ponce, “but difficult to achieve. Growth of these layers is similar to trying to smoothly fit together two honeycombs with different cell sizes, where size difference disrupts a periodic arrangement of the cells.”

As outlined in their publication, the authors developed an approach where pulses of molecules were introduced to achieve the desired alloy composition. The method, developed by Doolittle, is called metal-modulated epitaxy. “This technique allows an atomic layer-by-layer growth of the material,” says Ponce.

Analysis of the atomic arrangement and the luminosity at the nanoscale level was performed by Fischer, the lead author of the study, and Wei. Their results showed that the films grown with the epitaxy technique had almost ideal characteristics and revealed that the unexpected results came from the strain relaxation at the first atomic layer of crystal growth.

“Doolittle’s group was able to assemble a final crystal that is more uniform and whose lattice structures match up…resulting in a film that resembles a perfect crystal,” says Ponce. “The luminosity was also like that of a perfect crystal. Something that no one in our field thought was possible.”

The ASU and Georgia Tech team’s elimination of these two seemingly insurmountable defects (non-uniform composition and mismatched lattice alignment) ultimately means that LEDs and solar photovoltaic products can now be developed that have much higher, efficient performance.

“While we are still a ways off from record-setting solar cells, this breakthrough could have immediate and lasting impact on light emitting devices and could potentially make the second most abundant semiconductor family, III-Nitrides, a real player in the solar cell field,” says Doolittle. Doolittle’s team at Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering also included Michael Moseley and Brendan Gunning. A patent is pending for the new technology.

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