Innovation, revolutionary change, is a major element of economic growth and brings about changes in productivity, employment and competitiveness, nationally and internationally. The prime requirement for innovation is existing or latent market need. R & D is not a sufficient component in itself to bring about innovation. Fundamental research work is probably most cost-effective if directed towards solving the problems of evolutionary change.
Revolutionary innovation challenges the established order, changes patterns of work, makes capital plant redundant and sometimes eliminates the whole market for certain products. Generally it involves risks and time-scales far beyond those normally handled in a company. Increasingly it requires large amounts of revenue and capital.
To overcome these obstacles to innovation requires a strong sense of purpose in an organisation and strong direction of research activity. Given our own industry’s pitiful profit record Government support may be necessary. However, stronger funding of a smaller number of projects should be the aim.