Innovation support doesn’t always have to be in the form of formal funding and resourcing. Support can come from a number of different sources.
LOCAL AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENT BUSINESS AGENCIES
In many countries, there are government-run business agencies that are set up to assist with business start-ups and business development or growth.
New business and business growth are great for the economy. For example in the United Kingdom, for businesses established or about to set themselves up in Wales there is the Business Wales site which as well as assisting with new business development also provides innovation support for existing businesses who require help.
In Scotland in the United Kingdom, there is the Scottish Enterprise which works as a partner with the Scottish government to provide support for innovation.
Support from such organizations can come in the form of government grants or other forms of access to funding, training courses, tax relief, and networking.
SUPPORT FROM UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES
Universities, colleges, and other academic institutions can often be a great source for support on innovation-related projects.
Many universities teach innovation as part of the syllabus on graduate and postgraduate business courses and therefore they often have a wealth of expert knowledge.
It can be beneficial to contact your local academic institution to ask if there is any way that they can support you or partner with your initiatives.
Universities can often provide:
- Courses for your employees to attend
- Students that can spend time working on your projects as part of a placement year or other work experience type initiative
- Assistance with research. For example, is there a market for your intended product?
- Subject matter experts for consultancy or specialist services.
- Assistance and guidance on how to develop your product.
Academic institutions often have a wealth of knowledge and they often deal with many local business establishments on a consultancy or research basis. They may be able to suggest other businesses that you might want to contact in terms of working on your project as a joint venture.
OTHER STAKEHOLDERS OR THE GENERAL PUBLIC
You may also want to consider reaching out for innovation support from your customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
Customers are a great source of knowledge when it comes to product improvements and suppliers may have innovation experience and knowledge that they can share with you – after all, it’s often in their best interest to do so. Your growth will often assist theirs.
Finally, you might want to reach out to the public at large either by running a competition or by making requests via your company web site or blog. Read about open market innovation for more ideas on this concept.
IN HOUSE ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT
Managers can support their teams and their ideas with simple words of encouragement and subtle guidance.
Support of this nature prevents ideas from dying before an employee has any chance to prove the worthiness or value of an idea.
Along with positive words of encouragement, support your team member’s ideas in other ways such as…
- Ensuring that they have enough time away from their day-to-day activities and enough space to conduct their experiments.
- Protect your team from the obstacles that could derail the project. Such as the resulting revenue from this project would be far too small for our multi-billion dollar business or that idea is not relevant to our customer base complaint. Small revenue-creating ideas can grow into big revenue streams and new ideas can result in new customers or the generation of entirely new markets.
- Making all equipment, tools, and materials that support their initiative available where reasonably possible.