on innovation

Intellectual Property should not be treated in isolation when developing strategies for start-up businesses because this makes it difficult to establish the holistic systemic understanding needed for effectively managing the development of innovative start-ups. Innovation is a process, and most existing models and methodologies analyse individual instances which limits their long-term effectiveness. IP strategies should be seen as constantly evolving and in relation to other strategies. If the different development aspects are effectively aligned and connected, then IP strategies can significantly enhance the dynamic capabilities of a startup.

The contents below reflect a journey through a set of principles which reflect a paradigm shift, a transition in focus from the static to the dynamic, and from the disjointed to the interconnected. As with so many things, when it comes to innovation, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.

IP, Design Innovation, and Entrepreneurship
A book that I wrote using insights gathered during my PhD study at the RCA. You can find out more by clicking onto the thumbnail which takes you to Springer’s website.

“Innovation does not end with the inventive step. Quite on the contrary, one could argue that the latter marks only the starting point of an innovation process.”
My contribution to Leticia Caminero’s award-winning series of interviews on IP. This 47min interview provides you with some context on my book, and on the information you find below. Click the thumbnail.

Forms of IP: this simple diagram provides a rough overview over the most significant forms of knowledge protection. It is important to understand the significance of informal protection methods to be able to build a robust IP protection strategy.

From Process to Progress: Both diagrams feature the key business development attributes. The one of the left would lend itself to be used by an established business, the one of the right introduced the time factor which is particularly important for startups.

The Business Development Canvas: This diagram distinguishes between the five most prominent business development attributes including complementary assets, a term to sum up all the assets required to take a value proposition to market. These assets are often acquired through contracting, as your business matures, you may want to acquire and integrate them to increase your revenue.

IP Dependencies
Many entrepreneurs are banking on patents and often on patents that are connected to one invention alone. This can be unwise. If the patent is successfully challenged or circumvented by a competitor, the startup is in jeopardy.

Optimising your IP Strategy: Building a startup around a number of different, mutually complementary inventions is much better. It paves the way towards a much more varied and comprehensive knowledge protection strategy, which can involve both formal and informal forms of IP. If one inventive step is successfully challenged the innovator sustains a competitive advantage through access to the remaining elements of exclusive knowledge.

The Business Development Canvas revisited: With multiple inventive steps involved your Business Development Canvas may look a little more like this. Building your value proposition around a number of parallel inventions, will allow you disproportionately many options to combine different forms of knowledge protection and fund raising strategies.

The Business Development Diamond
For monitoring progress in connection with your route to market, it is useful to split complementary assets into supplies and distribution. Continued R&D builds knowledge (IP), and this facilitates access to complementary assets and sales. Many entrepreneurs forget to generate sales whilst pitching for investment. However, it is sales revenues (or users) which will ultimately make or break your initiative.

Balance is key
The Business Development Diamond lends itself to monitoring progress made in relation to securing the necessary supplies, and distribution options. Sales grow progressively as inventive steps are further developed and new once are discovered (R&D). This model can show if you are pursuing a tech-push or a market pull initiative, and if your supply chain and your distribution networks are developing in a balanced fashion.

The Evolutionary Nature of Innovation Businesses
My latest paper presented on innovation management at the AHFE conference in July 2021. Clicking on to the thumbnail on the left will take you to my ResearchGate portal where you can find many more articles of mine on Design Thinking, IP Strategies, and Design Innovation.

On Business Model Design and Innovation: Building on the insights shared during the AHFE conference in 2021, I investigated existing business strategy concepts in pursuit of a business strategy matrix which I presented at AHFE2022. Conclusion: Ideally a business strategy combines a range of tools for market environment assessment, as only the combined analysis allows for sufficient insight to conceive an optimal route-to-market strategy. Another point to be made: Ideally a business strategy is not derived from a business model, it precedes it. For more information, click on the image to see the paper on the topic.