There are financial and technical risks in investing in early-stage technologies and markets, and the return on investment is uncertain. Although there are risks, it should be pointed out that this is not pure blue sky development any more. We are now in the realms of targeted innovation based on existing realistic science perfected in QT2 laboratories around the world and enabled by detailed innovation plans to realise and implement well understood QT2 technologies.
Small companies can struggle to raise funds and larger companies can find it hard to justify early-stage investment, tempted instead to wait for the market to become clearer and the uncertainties to reduce. This leads to innovation barriers as noted below:
This means supporting business innovation through:
Engagement between the business and research communities, and between businesses, is essential to drive innovation. An important part of this is the knowledge transfer network. We know that innovation increasingly happens at the boundaries between sectors, and that bringing together different groups (or people from different sectors who would not normally meet) often stimulates unique ideas.
Getting an idea from concept to commercialisation, whether involving a start-up or large multinational company, usually requires a combination of factors – not just finance but also knowledge, skills, equipment, partners and, ultimately, customers.
We have developed a range of ways to address these needs, tackle market and system failures, and support businesses on their innovation journey, including:
In accelerating the journey of an idea from concept to commercialisation, funding is only part of the answer. Equally important are other kinds of resource – scientific and technical knowledge, state-of-the-art equipment, or new skills and expertise. Effective innovation rarely happens in isolation, and working with partners to develop new products brings powerful advantages – the more so as products become ever more complex. A great deal of our work is focused on helping business tap into such resources.
For years we have helped business access knowledge and expertise through thriving knowledge transfer networks aligned with our QT priorities. These communities create knowledge flow, connect business to academia and other partners, and enable two-way dialogue to inform our strategies.
We have transformed the organisational model of this support to form one coherent Knowledge Transfer Network. This recognises that innovation happens across sector boundaries, when people, ideas and issues that do not normally connect come together. The combined network still serves distinct sectors but is more flexible, dynamic and better suited to the innovation ecosystem and challenges of today.
Knowledge transfer partnerships unlocks innovation capability in a business by working with a further or higher education body such as a university. In a partnership, an associate – usually a graduate – is placed in the business to deliver a challenging innovation project.