In the entrepreneurial sphere, innovation is often seen as a significant competitive advantage. However, we rarely distinguish between different forms of innovation. We have therefore looked at this issue to provide an overall assessment of the forms of innovation.
The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is “to promote policies that will improve economic and social welfare throughout the world”. She says that innovation goes far beyond research and development.
“Far from being limited to research laboratories, the scope of innovation encompasses all users, suppliers and consumers, whether in government, business or not-for-profit organisations, and it transcends the boundaries between countries, sectors and institutions” – OECD
The different forms of innovation
Innovation results from the interaction of internal and external components. The internal components are the knowledge specific to the company: its know-how, its R&D capabilities, and of course, the financial realities specific to its structure. External components include elements that help trigger innovation from outside the company: customers, suppliers, and consultants through the use of open lab innovation platforms.
There are basically 4 types of innovation:
- Continuous innovation
- Adjacent innovation
- Disruptive innovation
- Radical innovation(new market innovation)
We will discuss each type of innovation in depth.
Continuous innovation consists of improving a product or service already present in a mature market by optimizing its performance or use. This type of incremental innovation is done in stages. Smartphone market leaders Apple and Samsung use continuous innovation to best manage product life cycles and keep their user communities on their toes with each new product launch. It is also a very common concept in the automotive industry.
Adjacent innovation is one of the most common strategies used to extend the life of a product or service. Adjacent innovation can be product/service or market innovation. The company using adjacent innovation uses an existing product or technology in a new market. Take Swiffer from Procter & Gamble: They took an existing product and adapted it for a new market.
Disruptive innovation promotes access to a certain product or service to make it available to the greatest number of people in terms of cost and use. In the short term, the goal of the company that initiates a disruptive innovation is to destabilize the competition in order to quickly gain market share. In the medium and long term, the disruptive company is aiming for leadership in its sector of activity by acquiring a community of users committed to its cause. Let’s take the example of Deezer or Spotify, which make music accessible to everyone, anywhere and anytime at a lower cost.
As the name implies, radical innovation is the commercialization of a brand new product and the creation of a new market that does not address any existing problem. This is for example the case of the virtual reality headset that has just arrived on the market.
Other forms of innovation
Innovation can also be characterized in other ways:
- Marketing innovation: innovating through the way the company’s products and/or services are promoted,
- Process innovation: changing the way a product is made by using technological advances and economies of scale to reduce manufacturing costs,
- Managerial innovation: a form of innovation that affects management and the way a company is run.
Research and Development
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) in France, research and development (sometimes abbreviated to “R and D,” “R & D” or “R&D”) “encompasses creative work undertaken on a systematic basis with a view to increasing the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, as well as the use of that stock of knowledge for new applications.”
R&D has three main components:
– basic research (this work is undertaken either out of pure scientific interest – free basic research – or to make a theoretical contribution to the solution of technical problems – oriented basic research -);
– applied research (aims to identify possible applications for the results of basic research or to find new solutions to achieve a specific pre-selected objective);
– experimental development (based on knowledge gained through research or practical experience, is carried out – by means of prototypes or pilot plants – with a view to launching new products, establishing new processes or substantially improving existing ones).
Patents: a guarantee of innovation
The protection of intellectual property is a key issue. The patent allows one to oppose the exploitation of the invention by a third party. Experts in the field of intellectual property protection recommend that patents be filed as soon as possible on all innovations developed. Indeed, as early as the design phase and if possible even before bringing any partner company into the loop, each property of a new product must be registered. It should be noted that it is the date of filing that is taken into account in the event of a dispute and not the date of acceptance. In the context of a highly competitive market, any company wishing to file a patent must carry out a competitive watch in order to identify existing opportunities.
There are 3 types of patents:
- the application patent, which covers the new application of a patented product or process.
- the improvement patent, which concerns an invention that is the technical improvement of another invention, itself protected by a patent.
- the dominant patent, its claims having to be reproduced, in whole or in part, for the exploitation of another invention, qualified as a “dependent invention”.
Innovating in Mauritius
With the advent of Mauritian startups, innovation is at the heart of the debate. Moreover, one cannot talk about innovation without mentioning intellectual property in a highly competitive global economic context. Indeed, the protection of intellectual property in Mauritius is gradually being strengthened with constructive exchanges between the various public institutions and key players in the private sector. The various initiatives launched by the government will have a positive impact on innovation.
We can also count on young entrepreneurs who are a force of proposal with innovative business models as evidenced by the Demo Day of the students of the Mauritius Telecom Campus in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).