Adaption of Innovation in the Context of the EU Policy Framework

by Vesna Balta on May 31, 2014

Innovation is by many seen as a key for how to re-ignite economic growth in Europe. However for many, the term innovation is used without a real understanding of the innovation and innovation implementation process and the challenges that need to be overcome to enable a successful innovation system. With this article we aim to describe adaption of innovation in the context of the new EU policy framework.

towards eu 2020The European Union 2020 strategy is  defined with three mutually reinforcing priorities, namely for the EU economic growth to be smart, through more effective investments in education, research and innovation; sustainable, thanks to a decisive move towards a low-carbon economy; and inclusive, with a strong emphasis on job creation and poverty reduction. The strategy is focused on five ambitious goals in the areas of employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and climate/energy.

Funding from the EU structural funds is available to develop integrated projects that will take the EU in the intended direction.  The way to align project ideas of spending the EU public money is to follow and to tune with the tools from the  smart specialisation platform (RIS3 – Research Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation). RIS3 is the platform for each region and country to develop the RIS3 strategy, in which it position itself in which field this member country is going to further specialise. This is a little bit of condensing and explaining the political theory about the EU 2020 strategy.

To support with implementation, there is a RIS3 Guide which is organised around six practical steps:

  1. Analysing the innovation potential
  2. Setting out the RIS3 process and governance
  3. Developing a shared vision
  4. Identifying the priorities
  5. Developing a shared vision
  6. Monitoring and evaluating

The first of these five steps is key to achieving successful projects. Analysing the innovation potential. Once the innovation potential is agreed and the smart specialisation areas are decided, then that is when the really hard work starts.

In a world of hyper competition between companies, industries, cities, regions, innovation for competitive advantage is a necessity. The public system can develop the framework for how to develop innovations, but then the actual development is driven by the private business sector. To select focus areas of innovation and work with continuous development, innovation and adaption of innovation needs to be an ever on-going activity.

However just deciding on the smart specialisation areas will not make innovation happen. Pilot projects and investments and development of an innovation support system will.  Below is an illustration of the innovation development process and some key business elements that are required as a base for creation of an innovation support system.

image

The process of adapting innovations in society is the next challenge. Everett Rogers wrote in his book Diffusion of Innovations already in the 1960s that the process by which an innovation is communicated through channels among the members of a social system is complex and delicate. He claimed that there are four main elements which influence the spread of a new idea: (1) the innovation by itself, (2) utilisation of communication channels, (3) extent of time, and (5) the structure of the social system.

The adaption process relies heavily on human capital and the innovation must be widely adopted in order to self-sustain. Within the rate of adoption, there is a point at which an innovation reaches critical mass and in developing innovation, it is critical to design projects so that we create innovation systems where innovations can be adopted efficiently. The table below shows the five stages of the innovation adoption process, according to Rogers.

Diffusion of Innovations

Five stages of the adoption process

Stage Definition
1. Knowledge In this stage the individual is first exposed to an innovation, but lacks information about the innovation. During this stage the individual has not yet been inspired to find out more information about the innovation.
2. Persuasion In this stage the individual is interested in the innovation and actively seeks related information/detail.
3. Decision In this stage the individual takes the concept of the change and weighs the advantages/disadvantages of using the innovation and decides whether to adopt or reject the innovation. Due to the individualistic nature of this stage, Rogers notes that it is the most difficult stage on which to acquire empirical evidence.
4. Implementation In this stage the individual employs the innovation to a varying degree depending on the situation. During this stage the individual also determines the usefulness of the innovation and may search for further information about it.
5. Confirmation In this stage the individual finalizes his/her decision to continue using the innovation. This stage is both intrapersonal (may cause cognitive dissonance) and interpersonal, confirmation the group has made the right decision.

Further, according to Rogers, adoption of innovation is defined as the relative speed in which members of a social system adopt to the new product or service. The rates of adoption for innovations are determined by an individual’s adopter category. In general, individuals who first adopt an innovation require a shorter adoption period compared to late adopters.

800px-Diffusion_of_ideas.svg

When we explore the graph in detail we see he formation: how it is formed from different types of customers and we can also imagine how this applies to the bigger scale as well, to the local, regional, national and EU markets, and then globally. What it means to be a costumer of a certain range is explained in many ways more or less theoretical, but I can for this purpose point you to the following reading: Which costumer group do you belong to?

And for implementing the theory of why the innovation matters into the emotional aspect of our behaviour, in other words: what makes us act, what makes us go I would here try to provide the basic list of those components:

  • When the market has been saturated the innovation is on the way out
  • The innovation offers us the ability to stay safe in the environment that we already work in
  • The new innovation starts from the little bit higher position of performance/value because of the learned experience
  • It offers us the thrive and the search for the new and ,what we hope for the better
  • It offers us the disruptive jump into an other higher energy state

About Vesna Balta :

Vesna Balta is a PhD from the Technische Universitat in Graz, Austria and a licensed architect. She is a Director at Bearing Consultings office in Zagreb and participates in projects across Bearings global practise. The main focus of her work is on project concept development, preparations and planning for structural funds projects in the European Union.

Ms. Balta is also the head of the EU funds section in the Croatian Chamber of Architects. She leads the education for Croatian architects with the theme of the structural funds in Croatia.

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