R&D and Innovation

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    Fab labs and D-Lab: two different philosophies of innovation?

Fab labs and D-Lab: two different philosophies of innovation?

Between 25 and 28 July 2018, I had the opportunity to participate in a rich learning expedition called #hackingday2018. It consisted of a set of visits and reflexive discussions about Boston’s academic, entrepreneurial and innovative eco-system. We followed a protocol combining planned and improvised visits going along with the flow of discussions and questions of the event itself (see the […]

September 7th, 2018|R&D and Innovation|1 Comment|
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    Should Chinese citizens be kept away from sensitive research at US universities?

Should Chinese citizens be kept away from sensitive research at US universities?

The Trump administration 
is considering measures to restrict Chinese citizens from performing sensitive research at American universities and research institutions. The boycott appears to
 be motivated by fears that Chinese researchers may be carrying out espionage activities and handing over sensitive US discoveries to the Chinese government.

The exact details of the restrictions
 are still under discussion but they would […]

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    When EU university researchers lost the full rights to their innovations

When EU university researchers lost the full rights to their innovations

University workers contribute not only through research and teaching activities, but may also start successful high-technology companies (e.g., Google and Genentech) and create valuable intellectual property (e.g., the Hepatitis B vaccine and the pain medication Lyrica). Moreover, universities can be important foundations for local innovation clusters, such as Silicon Valley (Bresnahan et al., 2001).

Several European countries, observing the growth […]

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    The flaws of randomised controlled trials and the reproducibility crisis

The flaws of randomised controlled trials and the reproducibility crisis

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are generally viewed as the foundational experimental method of the social and medical sciences. Economists depend on them, for certain questions, as their most valued method. Yet RCTs are not flawless. In my study, “Why all randomised controlled trials produce biased results”, I argue that RCTs are not able to establish precise causal effects of an […]

Social innovation skills: what are they?

Addressing the grand challenges of the future is impossible without widened participation in social innovation. If so, it makes a great deal of sense to consciously nurture the skill sets that enable successful social innovation by diverse individuals and teams. However, what exactly are these skills?

Social innovation skills – unchartered waters

Surprising as it is, social innovation skills have hitherto […]

The future of innovation: democratising influence

There is a lot of talk about the future of work with developments such as AI, telecommuting, and the gig economy making headlines. Techno-utopianists fantasize about a future where manual labour is obsolete; economic innovators dream of the transformative nature of a basic minimum wage; and, entrepreneurs promote new workplace models. Such changes propel us into a future with […]

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    How large companies can adopt lean thinking in research and development

How large companies can adopt lean thinking in research and development

The principle of lean innovation — fail early, fail cheap and learn fast — is gaining momentum in large companies. Gartner estimates that by 2021, more than 50 per cent of established corporations will be leveraging lean startup techniques at the business level to increase the pace and success of business transformation This is even more pressing in research-intensive […]

Peer review processes risk strangling economic growth

Einstein’s theory of relativity was criticized in 1931 in a book titled ‘100 authors against Einstein’. He replied that if they were right, one author would have been enough. This is an extreme example of the perils of peer review when dealing with brilliant researchers at the cutting edge of science. It is of vital importance right now to […]

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    How to build ‘ambidextrous’ teams that innovate for now and for the future

How to build ‘ambidextrous’ teams that innovate for now and for the future

Organisations are being implored to “innovate or perish” but that is easier said than done. One of the challenges of innovation in organisations is ensuring that the quest for innovation is balanced between improving existing offerings where the company has a strategic advantage (known as exploitation), whilst also striving for the big, new ideas that prove game-changers (exploration). The […]

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    Innovative firms need managers who are somewhat sceptical of innovation

Innovative firms need managers who are somewhat sceptical of innovation

What organisational conditions nurture creativity and promote innovation? Steve Jobs—whose track record suggests that he could have answered this question authoritatively—asserted once that “killing good ideas” is “a hallmark of great companies.” Bob Sutton relates the incident as part of an argument that, while the ability to generate good ideas obviously is important, focus and discipline in deciding which […]

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    Why e-readers succeeded as a disruptive innovation in the US, but not in Japan

Why e-readers succeeded as a disruptive innovation in the US, but not in Japan

The concept of disruptive innovation has captured the attention of executives around the world. As explained by Clayton Christensen, a disruptive innovation is initially seen as unattractive by mainstream customers and by the leading firms who serve those customers. Eventually, however, those firms lose their leadership positions to new entrants who are willing to develop and improve the innovation […]

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    If Trump’s ‘America First’ takes hold, expect disruptive innovation

If Trump’s ‘America First’ takes hold, expect disruptive innovation

Policymaking often creates unintended consequences. But can disruptive innovation actually be spurred by President Donald Trump’s version of protectionism? Using the language of disruptive innovation, we observe that the long-term negative consequences of isolationism are actually an acceleration of US companies losing their own industries. Perhaps not even protectionism is what it used to be.

When it comes to economic […]

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    There’s no innovation without anger (think Lars von Trier and Steve Jobs)

There’s no innovation without anger (think Lars von Trier and Steve Jobs)

Despite having different professions, the entrepreneur Steve Jobs and the film director Lars von Trier have one thing in common: they are both notorious for their outbursts of anger or irritation and for bringing about shifts in mood between disturbance and enthusiasm. Far from being a coincidence, this appears to be a result of their extraordinarily creative and innovative […]

Biotechnology: Why does Europe lag behind the US?

Flasks, by Republica, under a CC0 licence
Of all the new technologies that have emerged since the Second World War, biotechnology is notable in the extent to which US-based firms, having taken the lead at the start, continue to dominate the world market. Why has it been so difficult for other countries to catch up?

Biotechnology in this context refers to […]

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    Innovations are rarely (if ever) the product of a single individual

Innovations are rarely (if ever) the product of a single individual

We grow up learning about great inventions and scientific discoveries in history. Chances are, it won’t take you more than a few seconds to name the discoverer of penicillin, the formulator of the theory of evolution by natural selection, or the inventor of the telephone. These “lone geniuses” changed history through their individual brilliance, creativity, and tenacity. Right?

Not exactly. For […]

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    The power play between venture capitalists and CEOs shapes startup innovation

The power play between venture capitalists and CEOs shapes startup innovation

Our research explores how venture capitalists (VCs) and chief executive officers (CEOs) jointly affect the risk-taking behaviour of a startup — manifested through innovation novelty over the new venture’s different life stages. We show that VCs behave differently for each stage. They generally encourage startups to take high risk by pursuing novel innovations early on. In later stages, VCs […]

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    Management control systems have evolved to address the need for innovation

Management control systems have evolved to address the need for innovation

Innovation is the adoption of an idea or behaviour pertaining to a product, service device system, policy or programme that is new to the adopting organisation. Innovation has been recognised as a significant aspect of corporate survival. This has become particularly apparent in recent years as firms are increasingly operating in highly competitive markets where technologies are constantly developing, […]

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    Tax relief for Research and Development is a rare example of an innovation policy that actually works

Tax relief for Research and Development is a rare example of an innovation policy that actually works

The problem

In recent decades, many countries have increased the tax support they provide for research and development (R&D). The traditional model of funding has been to have government bureaucrats sifting through project proposals and then deciding which are the most deserving. An alternative is to let firms decide where to put their research money and simply treat R&D more […]

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    Businesses need an Industrial Internet of Things strategy right now

Businesses need an Industrial Internet of Things strategy right now

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has the ring of some disturbingly dystopian vision of the future. It feels daunting, sub-human. Put such thoughts to one side and it presents a myriad of opportunities.

First, let us try to understand the concept and the potential. In its report, “Driving Unconventional Growth through the Industrial Internet of Things,” Accenture describes IIoT: […]

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    Customer participation is no panacea for the development of new products

Customer participation is no panacea for the development of new products

Firms regularly assume that they can improve their innovation performance by involving customers in new product development (NPD) and tapping into customer knowledge about their needs and potential solutions. However, not all firms have benefitted from this practice. We undertook an investigation to explain why the returns from customer participation vary substantially across contexts and what marketers can do to […]