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Innovation – Curse or blessing!?

The crisis is barely over, and the whole country is already calling for innovations. In times of flourishing information technology, a shift in energy, and the question about our future mobility, we definitely can’t do without them. But are innovations truly the panacea for our problems, and does innovation really make it or break it when it comes to success?

By no means – The grandly announced Apple product presentation last year offers the best example. A new iPhone with a larger display and rounded edges, a smartwatch, and a ubiquitously usable payment system are surely no groundbreaking innovations. Each year, a gigantic advertising campaign fuels the expectations of the Apple disciples in order to announce the upcoming trends in the multimedia industry. However, the perceived “WOW effects” continuously diminish, and, this time, Apple is no exception. The reasons certainly lie in the discontinuity of disruptive innovations. No one can force them or precisely predict them. As an employer, all you can do is improve the underlying conditions, create a creative working environment, and animate employees to practice lateral thinking. It is definitely also helpful to implement common creativity techniques that promote unconventional bodies of thought and reveal new ideas. If a company has already made several quantum leaps in the past, their own demands naturally increase as well as the expectations of consumers. Consequently, the bar is set a little bit higher after every blockbuster. But if success doesn’t come, you need to apply tricks and, for instance, revert to old or forgotten / less well known technologies and sell them as though “they never existed.” Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to bother people. A fancy design and nice features are prized as revolutionary, and the sophisticated marketing concept does the rest. What follows is a new record – After only 24 hours, Apple was able to report 4 million preorders for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

For the affiliated groups, it doesn’t matter whether it was innovative or not. The main thing is to increase sales and boost the world economy. Far away from the well-known brands that enchant us every year with new products, it is worth taking a look at the local startup and spin-off scene. As an example, you can think of one successful KIT startup, RESTUBE, which makes every water sport a little bit safer with a smart backup. With this safety system, they were able to take away the ISPO GOLD AWARD 2014. Our high-tech scientific spin-offs also receive a lot of attention. New strategies and solutions for topics that plague our society are solved entrepreneurially, too. As startup consultants and natural scientists, the biopharmaceutical KIT spin-off amcure comes to my mind. The scientists are researching a promising new cancer medication and were able to win two CyberOne Awards.

In order to start a successful spin-off, important factors must be cleared up in advance. On the one hand, securing intellectual property plays an important role. This allows you to take action effectively against plagiarism and imitators. On the other hand, strategic planning, financing, and business set-up are essential.

Luckily, at the KIT, our students, employees, and scientists with founding affinities are not left alone with these questions. Whether in a team or as individuals, we are happy about every future entrepreneur who we can support in their potential business idea.

If you are already hooked, you are warmly welcome to our biannual event series “From Invention to Innovation” on March 16, 2015 at the Center for Advanced Technological and Environmental Training (FTU). If you are not free that day, do not hesitate to contact me. We can also stop by at the KIT Institute in order to give some insight into the topics of property rights, technology transfer, licensing, and spin-offs.

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