Innovation in its simplest form can be termed as something new or newly introduced into the market. Innovation in the business field is quite necessary since it forms the backbone of a company's growth and that of the economy as a whole. Innovation is the success of every business and must be managed effectively and efficiently (Limerick, 2002).
The ever changing technology and instant global communication have made it easier for companies to find answers to some problems they encounter and more so come up with innovations to improve on the current ones. Companies are also faced with pressures arising from global competition and by this; most of them are seeking the need to manage their innovations. Companies are nowadays attracting and managing innovations by having rewards or prizes for individuals within the company who manages to come up with brilliant and innovative concepts. This will give the employees motivation to come up with a new innovation since they are to receive reward for the work done. Also with a price competition, a wide range of people are encouraged to come up with the most creative innovations (Afuah, 2003).
Is Britain losing ground in technological innovation?
Over the years Britain have been ahead as the leading innovators but they still lag the capability to develop that idea into a revenue powerhouse. This is seen by various innovations which have their roots in Britain. Britain has shown its innovative potential by having within it, more than 100 Nobel science prizes this shows that there is a lot of untapped innovation which can be tapped easily through creation an enabling environment for innovation to take place.
Many great innovations are being sold by to other companies who in turn produce the innovation in large scale hence acquiring more profit from a single innovation. In the previous years, great innovations have originated from Britain but very few of them have been commercially reproduced from there, for instance innovations such as the fiber optic cable, computers and body scanner among others have been bought by foreign companies who use the technology to commercialize the idea as if it is part of their creative ideas (Brown, 2008).
Britain is indeed losing their ground in technology especially during this era where new economies are coming up. Countries such as China, Brazil, India, and Russia (BRIC countries) are slowly taking over the economy. Countries such as china and India are using their large population to provide labor force and market for the new products and at the same time, these countries are using most of their resources to support new innovation, therefore, they have become the leading source of innovation.
According to the Ft analysis of patent board, Britain's technological innovation is gradually falling, this is evident because in 2007 Britain was at 1.9% in its ranking up from 3.2%. This shows that less and less innovation is coming from Britain. Britain was ranked number six with France; they were also behind China, India, japan, Germany and U.S. being the leading (Brown, 2008).
The lack of large technology oriented companies in Britain has contributed to the slow development of medium size companies. This is because, if the larger companies would have existed, they would have created a conducive environment for small businesses to come up such as they would have subcontracted them jobs which would foster their existence and growth (David Connell, 2010).
An example of a case study to show how companies are selling out without realizing their full potential is, Autonomy Corporation was the largest Britain software company until it was bought for 6.7 billion Euros by Hewlett-Packard. Autonomy Corporation was started in 1996, in 2010 the company experiences an increase in revenue of $870m, and these figures were up by 18% in the previous year. Though its management were talented they lacked bandwidth, this also coupled by the lack of understanding of the software business hence devaluing of the company's shares, it led to its sell-out (Guardian, 2011).
Another example is the acquisition made by Japanese vehicle manufacturers on the British Leyland company which at one time was the third largest manufacturer of vehicles in the world. The UK car industry failed and it paved way for foreign companies such as Toyota and Nissan to rein the British market (David Connell, 2010).
Contribution of geography and ambition towards Britain's failure to realize the full economic potential of technology innovation
Studies show that Britain companies greatly suffer from lack of ambition that they can grow and become a leading producer of a certain technology. Most companies usually sell out early and fail to reach their ultimate goal (Smith, 2010). This is evident by a case study of Pi Research in 1986; Tony Purnell a PHD research student was carrying out his regular research at the basement of his house. He came up with an idea for a vehicle wind tunnel system and control system which on presentation to the Penske a top truck rental company in the U.S., the owner decided to fund his project to the tune of 80,000 Euros. Though this may see as a small innovative idea generated in a basement, with its development and few modification it was worth a lot more, this shows how much scientist in Britain are not motivated enough towards implementing an innovative project to capacity (David Connell, 2010).
What the government do to help British companies to convert creative prowess into big business
The British government can help to reinstate Britain's innovative culture through coming up with various programs to stimulate the new innovation and strengthen the existing ones. These strategies include having a rigorous funding process for all businesses and innovations, creation of conducive infrastructure and market for the resources, and lowering the cost of production which would as a result decrease the market price hence market for the product (Afuah, 2003).
The government can also promote innovation through increasing its support of innovation conducted in various institutions all over Britain such as Oxford University, Cambridge, and London University. Examples include the Cambridge consultants developed by Cambridge university engineering graduate, the CADCentre or AVEVA a government funded research institute for computer graphics and lastly there is the Cambridge Processing Unit which operated as an R&D institute under the name Olivetti Research Laboratory. All these examples are government funded institution which played active roles in innovation and to the growth of Britain's economy (David Connell, 2010).
The government should ensure that the innovations are in accordance with the company's key strategies, to prevent the company from diverting its fundamental resources and destroying its visions. The level of innovation to be achieved by a company is determined by the current its performance, its future expectations and its likelihood to tolerate risks, which may be incurred as a process. In product innovation, a company may improve its innovation and even enable it to commercialize its production by extending its products range; this may be a silent form of innovation to keep the company in business longer than others. Most technology companies can save on much of the resources they spend on innovations by encouraging process improvement of some of their products and extending their product range (Zhang, 2010).
The government can also facilitate new companies both small and large who would want to penetrate the market with their current range of products by supporting them to acquire new sales and manufacturing capabilities. In case the business is to solve a key issue or a crisis, then new capabilities and resources might need to be used too. In addition, the government should also create a conducive environment for companies which are starting up operations or those that have merged or acquired one another, to acquire new resources, ideas, capabilities and leadership who would stir up innovation. (Alexy, 2012).
The British government can also facilitate innovation by assisting some of these companies and consultancy firms to cushion some of the risks they might encounter during their initiation of the innovation till its implementation. This is seen by the different types of risks come with the different types of innovation strategies and projects. Therefore, the government should have a balanced portfolio of innovation projects which should be adopted when assessing the risk factors involved and the number of ideas or innovation managed at any one time (Ron Adner, 2010). Many consultancy firms which have developed in the East of England have a lot of untapped ideas which go untested as a result of the huge risk that comes with their development.
The government should also encourage training within the companies to ensure that proper channels are followed when introducing a new innovation into the business. This is because innovation should be integrated into the company's strategies at all levels. Innovation and ideas are normally not tied to a specific department in the organization, it can originate from anywhere. Innovation can originate from the following possible sources; these include formal R&D process, employee suggestion scheme, continuous improvement programs, quarterly innovation…