Innovation: our most valuable industry?
Innovation is a much overused and clichéd word. While to many, it is often intangible — not quite a commodity but accepted as being essential in creating new products — it is, in my opinion, the lifeblood of industry. Without innovation, companies lose their competitive edge, resulting in a slowdown of economic activity.
What is innovation though and how does it happen? At CPI, we define innovations as;
The art, science or process of converting existing inventions and ideas into practical products or services that create value and can be used in everyday life.
Innovation connects the dots between inventions. Spotting potential for improvement, it cleverly fills a gap in the market and combines inventions into products that will attract customers and generate commercial success.
In terms of manufacturing, innovation is a response to the demands of the 21st century. As the global population continues to rise, so too does the consumption of goods, which in turn puts untold pressure on the Earth’s finite natural resources. Innovation answers this problem by developing more efficient processes that in turn create better products, faster.
Innovation is an intensely collaborative activity that brings knowledgeable people with a range of skills together alongside development assets and money. Sharing ideas and knowledge enables better processes to be explored and developed. Innovation proves and demonstrates that an initial idea or invention can develop into something people actually want and which can be manufactured while delivering the core attributes the market requires. In addition, any innovation, no matter what form it takes, must achieve a balance between benefit and value.
A recent survey by PwC highlighted a direct link between a company’s successful innovation and faster growth, and yet only a quarter of British companies see product innovation as an important priority, compared with almost a third of companies globally. This is disappointing especially given the UK research base is strong. Other countries have been extremely successful at translating research ideas into business by reducing the risks associated with validating an idea, prototyping and demonstrating a product via intermediate centres for collaboration. CPI is one such centre driving innovation in the UK.
So, what does innovation mean to CPI in real terms? As experts, we implement a structured innovation process with our partners to help them prove that manufacturing processes can be carried out economically and repeatedly to fully prove the product’s viability. As we have a range of reconfigurable and flexible assets, we can achieve this at relatively low risk to our partners, as they can access equipment and skills they don’t have or couldn’t afford, thereby encouraging more companies to pursue innovative activities leading to competitive advantage for the UK.
CPI has worked with companies of all shapes and sizes on a diverse range of products and processes. Our development approach and methodology is technology-and material-agnostic and we are an independent, trusted partner to many SMEs, universities and large companies who wish to develop or revolutionise their product offering.
Interested to learn more? View some of our most recent case studies