Since being asked by Pål to fulfil the position of vice-head for innovation for K2, I have been wondering exactly what it is I should do? And indeed, what is the relevance of “innovation” to our research programs? These might seem very obvious questions with obvious answers, but apart from filling in the sections asking for innovative potential on our grant applications, how many of us truly pay any serious attention to the true innovation of what we do? How important is all this “innovation stuff?”
If I google “innovation”, the first hit I get is a dictionary definition:
- the action or process of innovating.
However, most critically is the example of its use;
“innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organization”.
All research groups have their research questions they want to get funded and want to explore, but maybe fail to realize the innovative potential of their scientific endeavors. However, truly wanting to make meaning from research is the first step towards innovation. When you decide upon the type of meaning you make, try to find 2 or 3 words that describe why that meaning (innovation) should exist. Do your processes, methodologies or philosophies follow a well-worn path, or are they paradigm shifting? Great innovation and research jumps the curve, thereby creating progress. It certainly requires rolling of the dice, but no risk, no reward. You may not achieve perfection, but jumping the curve in research and creating revolutionary innovation will always result in some bugs. It is safe to continue in current practices, to tick the boxes, dot the i´s and cross the t´s on our research applications. However, not only is there very little fun in that, but more and more you will not be rewarded for it.
Recently, in collaboration with BTO we highlighted the various different funding avenues for innovation. However, even charitable organisations in their application processes are asking “is there any innovative potential?”. Furthermore, with reduced basic funding to university (grunnbevilgningen) from the government in recent years, there is an increased focus on funding our research activities from external sources of finance, particularly BOA (bidrag og oppdragsaktivitet) funding, which demands innovative potential. At the start of the piece I asked the question “how important is innovation”, the answer is clear, its critical. Critical to development of your research, the training of young investigators and their futures, and to the continuing success of K2.