Caroline Bishop, Chair of InnovationXchange, was given a warm welcome to Venturefest West Midlands to give an SME perspective on the UK Innovation Landscape.

​In 2006 the InnovationXchange was one of the first companies set up to support Open Innovation (OI) in both large and small businesses. To ensure the InnovationXchange continues to offer best in class practice a major piece of research that identified the major UK trends which have developed over the last 12 years – in the corporate world, governmental support, and in the delivery of OI support was commissioned.

Caroline presented a summary of the report’s key findings, specifically highlighting examples from companies who have innovated successfully using OI practices.

Caroline explained how the research scope looked at how large corporates have evolved their innovation approach and identified what the highest performing companies do to stand out from the crowd and gain market share.

The research identified four fundamental changes:

However fundamental challenges remain:

So, what are the key takeaways for SMEs?

  • If you have not got a strategy, or you have not reviewed it recently, you need to do so
  • You need to have a plan as to where your business needs to travel as this will help set your priorities for the use of resources
  • How might new technology disrupt your business?
  • Crucially, you need to continually scan and understand the market in which you operate. Is it growing or declining? If the latter, how can you use the skills and resources in your business to get new alternative business?
  • Use OI support agents to help you, but choose carefully the right one for the job

If you have a strategy you can…

  • Make sure your marketing does not just look at promoting current products or services but is strategic, gathering insights on the existing and emerging markets that align with your skills and resources
  • Look out for competitions being run to find out about evolving and changing markets, emerging technologies and potential partners and funding to support your innovative efforts
  • Explore what UKBI and the Universities are promoting
  • Talk to your suppliers about what challenges they have and explore if you can jointly work to solve problems or create new products or services
  • Set up your own crowd sourcing platform to gather customer insight
  • Develop your HR strategy to align culture and rewards to the innovation agenda

After an insightful session Caroline concluded by explaining that technology is advancing and there are plenty of opportunities for SMEs to find new markets…

  • You need to think not only about what you do today, but what you could do tomorrow
  • Many successful companies have used their skills and resources to create an entirely different business
  • SMEs need to seek engagement with the big government initiatives

…IXC can help with this, find out how here.

You can also access the full research in their white paper here – 20190121 InnovationXchange whitepaper

(Author: Iain Mansell, IAWM)