Friday, April 08, 2011

Innovation – the forgotten masses

Here in the UK we are weighed down by policies for Innovation and a similar picture exists in many developed countries. There are grants for business, business support, incubators as well as sector clusters defined for aerospace, engineering, bio sciences and much more. What is actually happening here? Those in charge of policy making are in effect trying to pick which areas of the economy are going to produce the next exciting technology. It is a little like gambling on a horse but the question is should our money even be bet on a horse?

Currently large companies are able to fund their own Innovation efforts and small companies, particularly those connected to Universities seem to be well catered for in terms of funding and business support. Above a certain size of business there is a large gap into which most of our businesses fall, where external help is not forthcoming and their ability to help themselves is limited. If we forget for a minute about what Innovation outputs might actually be created (iPads, electric cars etc) and make Innovation generic rather than sector specific then surely these forgotten masses are capable of contributing a great deal to the economy. All we have to do is broaden our minds and think of Innovation in terms new products, processes and services not simply shiny new technology.

If every one of our medium sized business could increase its turnover by a small amount, say 10%, and perhaps take on 1 or 2 extra people then our unemployment problems would be solved and perhaps many of the social issues that accompany high unemployment. Better still, by focusing on all businesses we have avoided the situation where we put our eggs in one basket. We really can help everyone if we choose to do so.

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