NTNU Energy - Energy for a better society

Innovation

Mange blå tannhjul. Illustrasjon.

How do you create an innovation culture and a focus on innovation? How can partners and participants of an organisation work together on innovation? How do you succeed with innovation? How do you bring out the potential in the organisation? How do you communicate the innovation so that it gets applied?

In order for the Norwegian Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) to work even more purposeful with innovation in energy research the report "Innovation in FMEs" was composed. The report presents five recommendations focusing on how the FMEs can create an innovation culture and develop know-how and tools that enable greater levels of innovation. The recommendations are completed by the "FME Innovation Task Force" - an expert group assembled by SINTEF and NTNU Energy.


5 recommendations for increased innovation

You can read more detailed about the recommendations, justifications for the recommendations and a suggestions for further work in the report "Innovation in FMEs".

Tallet 1. Illustrasjon. The Manager must assume the role of a committed promoter of innovation 

A high level of management commitment is essential, and the manager needs to put innovation on the agenda. If an innovative manager is to succeed with his or her strategies it is essential that the entire management team together with the partners are agreed on the same aims and singing from the same hymn sheet. Discuss and clarify expectations with the different participants so that an innovation culture and an appropriate mindset develops.

Effective innovation management is also about effective communication. In order to stimulate continued efforts in the field of innovation-focused research, it is important that success stories are communicated fast and effectively. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that in order to succeed it is essential to instil the concept of innovation with meaningful content – something that makes it more than just another buzzword.

Tallet 2. Illustrasjon The organisation must appoint a dedicated Innovation Manager

In order to succeed in the innovation-related work, it is important to assign personnel to work continuously with innovation daily. This can be done by appointing a single person with dedicated responsibility for innovation management in the organisation.

Through the Innovation Manager the management team can ensure that the potential inherent in management focus and initiative linked to innovation processes is actually put into practice. In this way, the Innovation Manager can assist the Centre Manager in maintaining an effective focus on innovation.

The Innovation Manager should also play a key role in identifying innovations produced in the centre, follow-up of innovation topics and communication with industry partners.

Tallet 3. Illustrasjon The organisation must prepare a plan for developing innovation competence

It is also important that the organisation promote high levels of innovation skills among their participants. This will entail offering the means of acquiring know-how, as well as an arena to exercise and develop the acquired skills. Innovation competence contributes towards building an innovation culture, which is a criterion for innovation success. 

A first step is to prepare a plan for the development of innovation competence. When the plan is in place, the management team must ensure that it is effectively communicated to its participants. It will be sensible to assign the Innovation Manager to follow up this plan.

Tallet 4. Illustrasjon The organisation must adopt a methodology for systematic mapping of innovation

A precondition for delivering on innovation is to succeed in determining a robust list of topics that the organisation intends to focus on, and to identify potential innovations within these fields that are appropriate to the organisation´s goals. The various projects are followed up and evaluated according to their level of maturity. The desired outcome is that as many projects as possible shall continue upwards on the ladder of maturity, while those that fail to do so are discontinued. Such a system could constitute a management and prioritisation tool and can also be used in communication.

After categorising projects according to type, combined with an assessment of the technology’s level of maturity, we obtain an effective platform and a tool that can be applied to actively stimulate further development and innovation, and to monitor progress from an innovation perspective.

Tallet 5. Illustrasjon The organisation should show off the impact of their innovations

In order to demonstrate the societal benefits of technical innovations, and to ensure that these and any new knowledge are applied, it is recommended that a systematic project be conducted to highlight the technical innovations generated by the organisation. This project should be linked to the organisation’s ongoing dissemination work.