2012 European R&D/Innovation and Product Development Priorities Survey: Open Innovation for Idea Generation
Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) recently completed its 2012 survey of R&D/innovation and product development executives throughout Europe. The executives were asked to identify their most pressing challenges for 2012.
The survey reveals that R&D executives continue to struggle with doing effective portfolio planning and leveraging a wide network for idea generation. Moreover, respondents are challenged by how to generate an accurate technology map—outlining customer needs, available solutions, and technology gaps—to guide portfolio planning and project prioritization. The other prominent challenge is a perennial one, identifying the next breakthrough idea.
To examine these challenges in more depth, the survey asked respondents to “root cause” their top challenges by indicating if they stem from issues with staffing, process, technology/systems, or strategic alignment. R&D executives attribute their challenges to two primary causes: limitations in staffing and processes. R&D executives are unlikely to see additional staff in 2012; most respondents expect staffing level to remain static. On a positive note, budgets are expected to increase in 2012. Despite the emphasis on breakthrough innovation, most of the budget increases will be allocated to short-, medium-term, and incremental innovation projects.
In view of open innovation’s (OI) growing prominence and potential to help R&D develop emerging or disruptive technologies, the survey asked respondents about their use of OI. Surprisingly, given its prominence in the last two years’ survey results, the majority of respondents do not leverage OI in their product development processes. This may be attributed to respondents’ challenges with establishing partnerships and measuring the ROI of OI efforts. In regards to creating OI partnerships, respondents struggle with identifying partners with the right IP, establishing clear communication channels, and building sustainable trust. The R&D departments that are embracing OI tend to use it for idea generation and screening during product development life cycle and customers are their primary source of ideas. In terms of staffing for open innovation activities, most respondents employ part-time technology scouts.