Innovation Management in H2020 is like teenage sex. Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it! In case, you are one of the few around 11% of the 16000 applications of the first round of calls of proposal from H2020 (Research and Innovation programme) then congratulations, you really know about innovation management since there is no way to be successful in H2020 if you haven’t addressed adequately the basic principles of your innovation management. However, the other 89% really need to work this out, since innovation management is a horizontal criterion that is required across the whole project lifecycle. But let’s try to simplify things with two basic definitions:
Innovation: The process of creating something new that can contribute to better quality of life. Many more definitions can be said here but I personally prefer this one that fits better in the scope of H2020 that is funded by european tax payers money that they expect to have something back from it.
Management: Monitoring and Controlling. This the simplest but most appropriate definition that I was told from Peter Drucker’s books in my MBA 14 year ago.
Let’s see how we can combine both now. It is expected that an H2020 project always creates new elements (new ideas, new concepts, new knowledge, new methods, new products) during its lifecycle and those elements should be exploited through effective monitoring and controlling processes. Therefore, we can dare to say that innovation management is managing the exploitable new elements from a project. I hope now things are getting clearer. This means that we need to specify a strategy that a) will address the ownership of anything new that is developed within the project AND b) will allow all those new elements to be exploited by the consortium but also if applicable by third parties.
Effective strategies should be elaborated only on a table
However, our strategy should not be specified in a loose document with a lot of the blabla but without anything substantial and the best way not to fall in a trap and try to describe it as the majority does in a document, is to formulate our strategy in a table/spreadsheet. If we manage to specify our innovation management approach in a table, it will be much easier monitored and controlled. In the same manner that we described in one of my previous articles on stop disseminating and start communicating, our plan should have the following headings per column.
- What: Anything new that that the project creates such as new ideas, new concepts, new knowledge, new methods, new products (1st Column)
- Ownership Model or IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) model: Who own what. For each of the new elements that are created in the project, we need to specify who owns, how much of it is owned (in case of joint ownerships) and under which conditions is applicable (2nd Column)
- SWOT analysis: This is my favourite tool that is simple but very effective. i.e. We need to specify the Strong and Weak Points of each of the new elements created by the project as well as any possible Opportunities and Threats from the related environment and area. Therefore, 3rd column is the Strong points, 4th column is the Weak points, 5th column is the Opportunities and 6th column is the Threats.
- Who is expected to benefit: i.e. for each of the new project elements that are created who is expected to benefit (7th Column)
- How/What will be the methods for reaching each of the identified target groups above and raising their interest about the new elements created by the project? E.g. Website, email campaign, social media such as linkedin and facebook page, Newsletters, workshops, events and press-conferences, press-releases, publications, dissemination material such as leaflet, campaigns, awards, personal meetings with key stakeholders and related European associations, follow-ups over the phone, participation in virtual exhibitions, participation in trade-shows and other events, etc. (8th Column)
- When –Indicative dates that each activity/method above will take place. This will be linked also on when each of the new elements in the project is created (9th Column)
- How Far – Which is the reach level of each our new elements within our project? For each of the activities above/methods, we will specify whether we go at international, European, national or local level? (10th Column)
- By whom – Who will be responsible? Again for each of the exploitation activities defined above, we will specify who will be responsible (e.g. the Coordinator, the innovation manager, the exploitation manager, the European commission, etc) (11th Column)
- How much? For each of the exploitation activities, we will specify the resources needed (person effort, budget for other costs, etc) and since attention to the budget is a key factor for ensuring a cost-effective innovation strategy, we will specify also the priority level (high priority, medium priority, low priority) for each exploitation activity/method. (12th Column)
- How well – Performance indicators on innovation strategy: Any strategy in order to be effective, it should have some milestones to allow assessing its performance at specific time intervals. Therefore, for each exploitation activity, we will identify and specify specific performance targets that we expect to achieve through our innovation management strategy, e.g minimum no. of publications, min. no. of MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding/Collaboration agreements) with stakeholders to use the new elements created by the project, or no. of pre-agreements with angel investors or venture capitalist (possibly not more than one), etc. (13th Column)
As you can see from the above, we haven’t included any revenue models, since in one hand revenue models are based on rough estimates and consequently are not reliable at all and secondly revenue models are not part of innovation management but part of a business plan or a commercialisation model.
Last but not least, innovation management can really be enforced within an H2020 by involving partners with proven records of managing and exploiting effectively innovation, such as incubators and angel investors with successful such records.
I would love to hear your views on the above. Also, if you wish to dig deeper on innovation management as well as on other essential elements for successful H2020 projects, you can attend any of my intensive 3-day courses in H2020.