Technology Transfer Enabled Innovation

Presentation by Damien McDonnell

The presentation focused on technology transfer enabled innovation and drew on the practical experiences of the author from innovating UK liquid crystal technology and establishing the MODs defence diversification programme to highlight the issues and to provide insight into innovation in general and “Open Innovation” in particular. The old practice of linear innovation going from research to development to production tends to incremental innovation which takes too long, given today’s very short product life cycles and ignores the risks posed by adjacent sectors innovating in your sector with technologies out of your field of view.


This is the argument behind Professor Chesbroughs “Open Innovation” approach where enterprises cannot rely on their internal resources to innovate. He proposes a new model which takes into the organisation, 3rd party technologies to add customer value into their markets and also spin out technologies into adjacent sectors. Open Innovation is now a widely discussed topic around the World but there is much confusion about what it means and importantly what practical steps businesses can take to implement it.


In order to practice open innovation in todays “make anywhere sell anywhere world” requires innovation strategies which can overcome the challenge of Knowledge Integration required to deliver “open innovation”.


How do businesses gain awareness and access to technologies they are not aware of and how do technologists learn about new customer needs?


The answer is definitely not through the creation of a web site and total reliance on serendipity and the Google search engine.


It is more along the lines of what the workshop proposes which is the development of innovation strategies which involve all in the business and which leverage, through greater connectivity resources, from a wider connected community.


Innovation has moved up the agenda, it is no longer considered a “nice to have” in your business for added growth it is “a must have” for commercial survival.


Linear innovation whether from technology push or market pull can not be relied on to deliver economic growth in todays world and often results in many good ideas falling into “the valley of Death”. Open Innovation strategies are needed but they are not intuitive, they require training and new skills and a broadband enabled knowledge integration platform.


Intermediary organisations and open networks, such as Quantum Innovation, have a key role to play in assisting organisations to develop effective innovation strategies to cross the valley of death. This requires a culture change in businesses whether large or small which moves the innovation agenda from the R&D directorate to one which involves the whole business including customer and suppliers. In order to turn the” valley of death” space between technology push and market pull into an innovation opportunity space requires an intelligent exchange that can efficiently and effectively match knowledge to requirements driven by value adding customer benefits ie functions that are enabled as better, faster, cheaper and greener.


Successful innovation requires:

  1. Excellent science and technology skills to risk reduce inventions- which the UK has in abundance.
  2. Engineering skills to productise and deliver products to consumers at the price they are prepared to pay- which the UK is getting better at.
  3. An interactive combination of Market, Technology and Business “Enterprise” skills to deliver an intelligent knowledge integration platform to navigate the valley of death- This is where the UK business needs to up its game.