Prof Hautamaki introduced the concept of global networking in value chain creation. With communication and technology globalization, resources are more easily accessed across borders and continents; value chains are becoming specialized and distributed all over the world. However, even so, within a country or state itself, resources are concentrated in knowledge hubs and Innovation Centres. Innovation Centres provide world-class ecosystems for innovation and global collaborations.
Prof Hautamaki further elaborated on the characteristics of Innovation Centres. Many of these innovation centres have precedence of success in the regions and prominence (usually coupled to institutions). More often than not, these innovation centres embody a culture of creativity and openness that attracts for people, entrepreneurs to combine and flourish ideas, with easy access/ engagement of investors. A competitive innovation ecosystem that encompasses each innovation centre supports continuity in renewal of businesses. In fact, he proposed an emerging framework for innovation: global networks/ knowledge hubs as schematically reproduced below.
Professor Hautmaki re-iterated that the crux of innovation does not lie within the hub itself, but rather, in the innovation ecosytems that surrounds the innovation centres/ hubs. Some of these factors of interplay in the ecosystem are shown in the schematic diagram below. He elaborated that it is critical to have a wide-enough market for new innovative products. If market is not large enough, one must be versatile to look for a ‘test-bed’ economy. To put it succinctly, an innovation system behaves like a community whereby successes are only possible when all components interplay well in a synergistic network.
With an understanding of Innovation Hubs and Ecosystem that serves as the infrastructure for innovation, Professor Hautmaki introduced the 4i model of innovation, which entails the flow of Ideas to Innovation to Implementation and back to Ideas in a closed loop.
Prof Hautmaki proceeded to explain the two modes of innovation. First, there was traditional model of innovation, starting with the birth of ideas, epitomized largely by MNCs and Co-operations. These innovations were driven by profit, economy and productivity based, driven by the values and demands of Capitalist societies for economic growth. What is of interest, is however the emerging model of sustainable innovation. Unlike traditional innovation, Sustainable Innovation sustainable innovation is driven by creativity and innovation in optimized harness of industrial capital, natural capital, human and cultural capital (encompassing diversity) to solve “wicked problems”. Prof Hautmaki quizzed that one does not have to look far to solve wicked problems; many of them are present in Millennium Development Goals, such as greying population, climate change, food security and poverty eradication.
As one would have noticed, the design process of a product in line with philosophies of sustainable innovation would requires a major paradigm shift from conventional innovation modes. It entails a design reprioritization from usefulness of the product, often served by development/ material properties, performance and technology to one which builds on the perceived value of the product, driven by user’s desires and what it means to their concept of life. Henceforth, it is important to blend people with disciplines and skills, like user- research and anthropology with engineering. This emphasizes the importance and interconnectivity of the innovation hubs and supporting ecosystem.
Innovation hubs and ecosystems must recognize, adapt and leverage on new drivers of sustainable innovation, projecting for current and future needs in order to stay relevant. Cultural and social expectations more often than not bring about new changes in consumer behavior, which then becomes the new “normal”. In my opinion, one of these major changes of the millennia the global connectivity and changes in private space of the user brought about by the proliferation of social media, such as Facebook. Another key facet of sustainable innovation is through growth and value creation- one that leverages on the combination of service economy and design thinking. A popular framework that companies employ in value creation is via the SMART framework- Simple, Maintenance-friendly, Affordable, Reliable and Timely-to-Market.