ISPIM is holding its 2018 conference from 17 to 20 June in Stockholm where participants can expect 3 days of thought-provoking innovation discussions, 500 innovation professionals, 50 countries represented, 250+ presentations with innovation management insights from industry and research, 80+ sessions and 8 tours to innovation hubs and leaders in the Stockholm area. The winner of the ISPIM Grand Prize will also be announced during the conference.

Keynote speakers include Roberto Verganti, Professor of Leadership & Innovation, School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Petra Sundström, Director of Idea and Innovation Management, Husqvarna Group and Hermann Kudlich, Digital Lead, LEGO House / LEGO Group.

TII members qualify for the member’s rate of SEK6450 + VAT for the 3-day event. More information about the conference and its various attractions, as well as a provisional programme and booking form can be found on the conference website at https://www.ispim-innovation-conference.com/



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A new business insight provided by Roger La Salle, innovation thought leader and pioneer of “Matrix Thinking”™

Innovate or perish?
I am not sure how many times I have related the statistic that whereas in the 1920’s the life expectancy of a public company in the USA was some 65 years, by the 1990’s this had fallen to ten years and today is even less. There is a clear message here of the need for innovation and to be constantly moving your products, services and customers to an ever better place. In short, “Innovate or Perish”!

Is ISO 9000 the answer?
ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) was founded in 1947 with the aim of bringing some international standardisation to manufacturing quality and traceability. Many companies have embraced the teachings of the ISO regime and indeed many suppliers demand that their subcontractors be accredited to this standard as there is little doubt there are benefits to be had, at least in the short term.

Some studies have tried to establish a direct link between improved profits and ISO Certification but such a link in many cases is questionable. Some argue that increased profit improvements had come before adopting ISO and that in fact later ISO adoption simply allowed companies to do business with more major companies that demanded their suppliers be so certified. Indeed, one may argue that this is a positive feedback system guaranteed to ensure that ISO remains firmly embedded in manufacturing worldwide.

Some years ago on Melbourne radio one company started promoting its products as those built to the exacting standards demanded by ISO 9000. I’m sure this advertisement caught the attention of many in the manufacturing sector, probably to the detriment of the advertisers who had either failed to realise what ISO Certification was really about, or was trying to hoodwink an unknowing public. In any case, the advertisement was “pulled” within days as no doubt “those in the know” promptly and no doubt vigorously informed the radio station of the factual error of the claim.

ISO Certification does not dictate that products are best in class; its purpose is to establish system and order, to improve documentation and traceability. In essence it put order into businesses that without it may be otherwise somewhat chaotic. That’s the good news.

So what’s the catch?
A study done by Mike Tushman of Harvard Business School and Mary Benner of the Warton School showed that the adoption of ISO9000 may come with a “sting in the tail”.  In the years immediately following ISO implementation business outcomes improved in terms of reduced defects, less waste and rework, improved quality and more repeatability in terms of all processes. Customers, especially the bigger ones, loved this and were eager to see all of their suppliers embrace ISO 9000.

Of course, in the wake of this many others followed suit, or in some cases were pushed into accreditation by their upper tier customers. However, after several year of working with the system and order dictated by ISO, the innovation of these accredited companies collapsed. No longer was there so much free thinking and an ability to step outside the boundary dictates of ISO. The result the study revealed was that within five to seven years at the most, innovation output plummeted as these companies became slaves to the ISO regime and stagnated.

What’s the message?
ISO 9000 accreditation may be necessary and indeed essential, especially if you are a supplier to the majors, but beware its downside. The more system and rigour you bring into your organisation, the greater the need to implement some systematic means of innovation into your business as a cultural part of its DNA.

Innovation Circles need to be established, much along the lines of the famous Japanese Quality Circles established by Edwards Demming in Japan in the 1950’s. Quality Circles that lifted the Japanese manufacturing quality from pure junk to the very best in the world. Innovation Circles are analogues to these famous Quality Circles and once implemented with people properly training in the simple art of “Innovation and Opportunity Capture”, you can ensure your enterprise will not become a victim of the very regime that has made it successful.

Observe what is happening to your business as staff work to ISO. Observe too the possible downward spiral of innovation output. If you see that happening and you are a slave to the upper tier suppliers, as most of the auto industry providers are, or were, you may well be “ISOing” yourself into extinction.


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The Horizon 2020 ENRICH in the USA project, in collaboration with their partner, the International Business Innovation Association, is planning to organize two-week bootcamps in the United Sates in October 2018, during which they will provide participants with perspectives on their market in various US regions. All bootcamp participants will start and end the program in Boston where they will receive an introductory course in “Conducting Business in the US” and engage in unique networking opportunities with local innovation experts. In between, participants will each be hosted for up to 10 days by a certified soft landing site in the US which will provide programming/services especially themed to the various industry sectors and matched to the needs of each applicant.

In preparation of the bootcamps, a pre-departure workshop will be organized to ensure that participants make the most of their two weeks in the US.

Call deadline: 29 June 2018 at 23h59 CET

More information about the Research Commercialization Bootcamp can be found at https://usa.enrichcentres.eu/call-applications-research-commercialization-rc-bootcamp and about the Business-to-Business Bootcamp at https://usa.enrichcentres.eu/call-applications-business-2-business-b2b-bootcamp


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In his first press briefing on 27 March since taking up the post of EU Director General for Research and Innovation, Jean-Eric Paquet announced his strategy for a more “joined-up process” in planning the next Framework Programme by working more effectively with other policy areas, such as regional development, energy, transport and digital technologies.

The Commission’s proposal for the next programme covering the period from 2021 to 2027 was more or less completed by his predecessor, Robert-Jan Smits, and will be announced officially by the end of May. There are currently three possible budget scenarios for FP9 ranging from a low-end €80 billion to €120 billion and even €160 billion, which was recently advocated by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. In comparison, the current seven-year budget, ending in 2020, is €77 billion. At this point it is not possible to say which option will prevail, but one indication will be the announcement of the Commission’s overall seven-year spending proposal, covering all policy areas, scheduled for 2 May.

A search for synergies between different areas of EU policy is not new. Successive Commissions have tried – with partial success – to make it easier to combine research money with regional development funding to build and run new scientific centres in eastern Europe, or to make research a key element of health or agricultural policy. The new Director-General admits that there is no magic formula for implementing synergies, but it is his intention that the different sectoral areas of FP9 should be developed in genuine “teams” that cut across departments.

Among the changes planned at the top of the Research & Innovation DG will be regular Monday meetings between Paquet and his three deputy directors-general, Wolfgang Burtscher, Patrick Child and Signe Ratso, to coordinate planning.  In addition, there is “a strong case” to reshuffle the top portfolios so that each of the three deputies controls some sector-specific areas as well as broad administrative or policy tasks, which again, will make policy coordination with other parts of the Commission easier. A further reorganisation may be needed at some point to prepare for FP9.

On planning the next Framework Programme, Paquet said the main work was completed by Smits. “We now have two more months to fine-tune it” before it is published at the end of May. As with Horizon 2020, there will be a basic science “pillar” comprising the ERC and the Marie Sklowdowska Curie researcher grants; a societal challenges sub programme including “missions” to apply science and technology to solving big problems; and an open innovation portion, including Moedas’ proposed European Innovation Council, “to promote disruptive, breakthrough innovation at the EU level, and to complement what many member states are already doing.”

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During the presentation of the EPO’s results for 2017 on 7 March, EPO President Benoit Battistelli revealed tha,t for the first time in the history of the European Patent Office, a Chinese company came top in terms of patent applications. 2017 also saw a new record in the number of intellectual property filings in Europe.

The number of applications for the European patent grew 3.9% to 165 590 submissions, a record figure in the history of the EPO. Most of the requests came from the US (26%), followed by Germany (15%), Japan (13%), France (6%) and China (5%), which made it to the top five thanks to a sharp increase in its patent requests (+16.6%). Huawei led the ranking of patent submissions (2,398 applications), followed by Siemens (2,220), LG (2,056) and Samsung (2,016).

Most European countries submitted a larger number of patent applications to the EPO in 2017. Among the countries with the highest number, applications increased in France (+0.5%), Germany (+1.9%), the United Kingdom (+2.4%) and the Netherlands (+2.7%). On the other hand, Norway (-0.6%), Belgium (-1.9%), and Portugal (-5.7%) were the European countries whose number of patent applications decreased in 2017.

In terms of patent applications per million inhabitants, Switzerland came top of the league (884), followed by the Netherlands (412) and Denmark (377). Most of the applications came from the sectors of medical technology, digital communication and computer technology.

According to Mr Battistelli, “The growing demand for European patents confirms the attractiveness of Europe as a market for leading technologies. The EPO has responded effectively to this constant demand with efficiency measures that have increased production, productivity and meeting deadlines. At the same time, we have optimised the quality of our products and services.” The EPO prides itself in the fact that the certificates issued by the 7,000-employee organisation are seen as more solid compared to intellectual property certificates given by its peers in other regions of the world.


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The Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI), the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, who called last September for the creation of a European innovation agency modelled on the US DARPA, is close to realisation. In its start-up phase, the initiative will be a Franco-German joint venture (hopefully to be extended to all 27 EU member states), which is being driven by André Loesekrug-Pietri, an investment fund manager of Franco-German origin.

Similar to the 60-year-old DARPA agency of the United States Department of Defence responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military, JEDI will base its approach on meeting key development challenges rather than prescriptive specifications.

From its foundation in 1958, DARPA’s mission has been to fill the gap between academic work and the incremental innovation done by the military. Without DARPA, the world would have probably not seen projects that led to the creation of the internet, Global Positioning System, driverless cars, stealth, SpaceX and Siri.

The idea for JEDI is to develop dozens of operational prototypes every year within timeframes of months rather than years, which is currently the case. Mr Loesekrug-Pietri presents the case of  glyphosate as a current technological challenge. According to him it would be possible to find a viable alternative which satisfies environmentalists and farmers within 24 months if a number of research teams commit to work on the challenge.

Part of the strategy to develop prototypes is to enter the market faster by interesting investors and industrialists in producing and marketing the innovations. The other part of the strategy is to regain technology leadership in Europe and thereby restore the area’s strategic and economic independence. Unlike DARPA, however, JEDI will not function as an agency, but rather as a lean and agile structure. Ten project managers will each coach one or more selected funded projects full-time. They will be seconded for a period of two years – renewable once – from leading research centres. The goal will be for JEDI to be perceived as a career booster, thus attracting the best talents.

Ten programme managers have already been identified, and likewise the technology priorities, i.e. AI, cybersecurity, components, computing power, biotechnologies, energy storage and nanotechnologies. The provisional budget is estimated at €235 million for 2018, the launch year, with €228 million for project funding and €7 million for operating costs. But the aim is to increase funding to €1 billion a year once the initiative gathers momentum.

It remains to be seen whether the initiative will attract other EU countries to join – and it is now clear that the model is different to the European Innovation Council advocated by EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas, and which has a strong focus on close-to-market innovation.


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The names of the 12 finalists competing for the 2018 EU Prize for Women Innovators were announced on International Women’s Day on 8 March by EU Research Commissioner, Carlos Moedas. Four cash prizes will be awarded to the top 4 women entrepreneurs, consisting of a first prize of €100 000, a second prize of €50 000, a third pize of €30 000 and the Rising Innovator’s prize of €20 000.

The finalists were selected by a jury of independent experts from the fields of business, venture capital, entrepreneurship and academia. The Commission received 122 applications from across EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020. The companies created by the contestants are built around innovative ideas in a wide range of sectors, with health, biotech and social innovation being the most prominent ones.

Nine of the outstanding women are in the running for three prizes in the main category, and three others for the Rising Innovators prize that recognises excellent female entrepreneurs under the age of 30. The nine finalists in the main Women Innovators category are from Austria (1), France (2), Italy (1), Lithuania (1), Spain (3) and UK (1). The three candidates for the Rising Innovators award are from Norway, Italy and Greece.

An introduction to the 12 finalists can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/research/prizes/women-innovators/index.cfm?pg=finalists


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