The Future Of Innovation

Ms Frances Fortuin

We assume that in this time in which global climate change occurs concurrently with economic downfall the future of mankind largely depends on the industry's ability to use its full innovative potential through virtual collaboration The much needed transition to a sustainable economy requires that firms not only start to develop renewable energy sources, but also create closed loops for all their production and value chain processes. Such loops, in which the waste of one firm constitutes a valuable material resource for another firm, can only be realized in network type of global industrial system. We state that the main driver for the development of such a system is a truly globally connected innovation network that creates win-win situations for all actors in the system, e.g. through effective use of the worldwide web.


The currently available technology for global collaboration of virtual R&D teams is now so advanced that it enables virtual teams not only to communicate globally, to exchange information and discuss problems, but also to effectively work on, design and create new things together. This has enormous advantages. Firstly, it enables companies to build teams with the highest level of capabilities and (cultural) diversity, not hindered by problems of spatial barriers. The importance of diversity in innovation teams has been demonstrated many times. At the same time, virtual collaboration enables companies to make the best innovation resources (knowledge, tools) available to all members of the team, irrespective of location.


These virtual collaborations will become even more effective, if they are allowed to work in an open innovation sphere to include the resources and know-how from outside the company's boundaries. We assume that innovation will more and more be carried out in networks or clusters of firms, rather than in individual firms. Currently a trend can be observed that firms open up their innovation process to the outside world. More and more innovation projects are being carried out in collaboration with external partners, such as knowledge institutions, suppliers or customers. We expect that in the future this process will even go a step further, namely in groups or clusters of firms that together decide to engage in innovation endeavours. In doing so, they can carry out the type of system innovations that is needed to cope with the global challenges we are confronted with.


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Article © 2009 Ms Frances Fortuin. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Ms Frances Fortuin

Ms Frances Fortuin

affiliation:   Food Valley & wageningen University

position:  Senior Researcher

country:  Netherlands

area of interest:  innovation management

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