The Future Of Innovation Is To Think What Nobody Has Yet Thought About

Dr Piero Formica

Entrepreneurialism is the other name of innovation

There is a direct link between the entrepreneur and the innovation process. Innovation is knowledge turned into action through creative endeavour that highly depends upon the willingness of individuals to start new firms. Thus, entrepreneurialism accelerates that process by increasing the opportunities for the successful commercialization of innovation.

In the 19th entrepreneurial scholars, such as Marie Curie – an enterprising woman who became personally involved in the industrial application of her scientific results – showed preference sets affected by the convergence of two character profiles: namely, that of homo scientificus, breaking away from convention to search for ground-breaking discoveries, and that of homo economicus, with a special acumen for marketing and sales. During the 20th century, self-made men like Henry Ford revolutionized the mobility industry by manufacturing groundbreaking vehicles. Ford did not listen to current customers by trying to make the horse and buggy go at 60 miles per hour. And inventors like Thomas Edison, the wizard of Menlo Park, fostered interactions and networking conducive to successful business models by “selling customers the fewest number of light bulbs necessary to supply them with the light they wanted”.

The 21st century is the century of intellectual venture capitalists, those who make geo-economic changes and move to new places by acquiring a sense of discontinuity. Intellectual venture capitalists are in essence knowledge entrepreneurs who hold intellectual capital and are willing to undertake risks investing it towards the pursuit of larger pecuniary benefits – that is, they have the ability and the potential to transform knowledge and intangible assets into wealth-creating resources.

Over the century, an abundant supply of such intellectual capitalists would encourage intangible assets-intensive processes, whereby companies making decisions for outsourcing innovation ‘learn’ rather than ‘control’. The focus is on what companies do not know they do not know. To be brave enough to sail in uncharted waters, they have to learn how to govern the impact of leverage on intangible assets. In doing this, they rely on the performance of the intellectual capitalists acting like the ‘merchants of light’ of Phoenician and Renaissance times who saw into distances most could not.

Intellectual venture capitalists encourage brain circulation, which is the best way to get an exchange of knowledge, and therefore they help entrepreneurial spirits to embark on innovation journeys. The resulting intellectual exchanges foreshadow processes of cultural integration, knowledge creation and result-oriented innovation actions that will be unfolding all through the century.

The international mobility of talented individuals helps countries, regions and territorial communities close their productivity gap vis-à-vis the most advanced economies, since it promotes entrepreneurship-led innovation. This reduces the risk of talent drains into the most advanced economies.

Open boundaries, education without borders, physical and virtual journeys into other places and disciplines: all these are ingredients that foster new ideas. The international mobility dimension we are experiencing at the dawn of the 21st century is the precursor of societal breakthroughs that, respectively, the Phoenicians and medieval communities of scholars made by intuition rather than through a laborious linear logical process, which was the style of innovation embraced by the ancient Greeks.

Article © 2009 Dr Piero Formica. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Dr Piero Formica

Dr Piero Formica

affiliation:   Jonkoping University; International Entrepreneurship Academy

position:  Professor and Dean

country:  Sweden

area of interest:  Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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other books and writings by

Dr Piero Formica

Knowledge Matters: Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Innovation Networks and Knowledge Clusters

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Knowledge-Driven Entrepreneurship: Understanding the Forces Behind the Entrepreneurial Revolution

Le vie dell'innovazione. Nuove frontiere e pionieri d'impresa,

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