By Nina Castravet
Northamptonshire Growth Hub
WHEN thinking about innovation most people confuse it with the new ideas generation process, continuous improvement, thinking outside the box and huge investments, but innovation is not about who can generate the most new ideas, and thinking outside the box is not necessarily about constantly improving existing processes or products.
Innovation is about generating value from those new ideas and thinking of ways in which you can break through and surprise your competitors - as Oren Harari said: 'The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles'.
At the Northamptonshire Growth Hub, we like to define innovation as a successful implementation of something that is new or different, affordable, accessible, which adds value to the customer by solving a real problem and drives growth for the creator.
We often get asked how companies can afford to allocate resources in the current economic climate and how businesses justify spending large amounts on experiments that might fail. They're right, innovation doesn't come for free. Companies need to allocate time, money and people to the search for new products, services, methods and so on. However, on the plus side, innovation can lead to powerful cost savings, profitable new products and competitive advantage. Indeed, in some situations the benefit of innovation might be company survival. If you just cut costs and don't innovate you risk being bypassed in the market by more agile competitors.
To help Northamptonshire businesses overcome some of the financial problems that hold them back from being more innovative, the Growth Hub offers grants of up to £20,000 under its Innovate Northamptonshire project. These grants will support activities that lead to the development of new products, processes or services.
One of the local businesses that has recently been awarded a grant is Austin Davis Biologics Ltd (ADB), a small family-run science and technology company.
Dr Corrine Austin, director of ADB, said: "The funding will enable us to expedite the development process and commercialisation of laboratory kits which will generate increased profit margins and enable further employment opportunities."
To find out how to apply for a grant and what other support is available for your business through Innovate Northamptonshire call 01604 212696 or visit www.northamptonshiregrowthhub.co.uk
Grant applications must be submitted by noon on Monday, 21 May 2018.
Innovate Northamptonshire is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by Northamptonshire Growth Hub - a partnership between The University of Northampton and Northamptonshire County Council, providing comprehensive and unbiased support for your new or growing business.