How Do Innovation Agencies Work?14 min read

how do innovation agencies work

Organizations around the world have been working with innovation agencies and businesses to help solve business, societal, economic, and environmental challenges.

These agencies play an essential role in the economy by nurturing creativity and developing new products, services, and processes.

For example, in Santa Monica, California, The Wellbeing Project is using advancements in data technology to gain a deep understanding of each individual, the community, and society in general, in order to foster growth and improvement.

In Warsaw, the capital of Poland, an innovative app called “Virtual Warsaw” is currently in pilot mode. The main objective of this project is to help visually impaired residents to move independently around the city with the use of their smartphones.

But where do innovation agencies fit in the picture? Why are they important?

Why are innovation agencies important?

To better understand the important role that innovation agencies play, let’s talk about an important innovation project that has worked behind the scenes within the US government.

Government procurement is a pain. It’s usually seen as one of the biggest challenges when it comes to innovation. Bear in mind, however, that procurement is an important element in all government projects.

The problem is that the way procurement is typically done results in a lot of red tape and bureaucracy, which can be very frustrating for companies who are trying to do business with the government.

In the US, the problem lies in the rules for procurement set by the Federal Acquisition Regulation. If you want to obtain products and services, you need to go through almost 2,000 pages.

Then, 18F, a digital service innovation agency, launched an innovative solution called Micro-purchase Platform, which is basically an auction-bidding system for open-source software development.

18F, a digital service innovation delivery

This solution allowed government project teams to procure the software specifications and features they needed to do their responsibilities quicker and cheaper compared with traditional processes.

As for the results, estimates have shown that the platform 18F created was able to save $1,000 per auction. Since they held a total of 37 auctions, they were able to save the US government around $70,990.

Because of 18F, the government was able to save time and money, which then resulted in better services for citizens.

In addition, governments around the world tapped local innovation agencies to replicate the success of 18F. For example, Singapore launched its own govBuy Marketplace, which connects government agencies with small businesses to solve technical problems with open-source code.

From the example above, you can already see why innovation agencies are important…

At its core, these agencies help the government, organizations, and private companies solve problems with innovative solutions. In other words, they come up with new ways to do things that are more efficient and effective.

In addition, innovation agencies help speed up innovations, do a better SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), perform an innovation maturity scan, build an innovation strategy plan, and make optimizations.

Different Types of Innovation Agencies

Innovation agencies, especially those that have partnered with government agencies, support the development of new radical technologies, industries, and markets. As such, there is a wide variety of innovation agencies out there.

There are many organizations and institutions out there that support innovation. These firms are functioning as innovation agencies even though they were named differently.

  1. Incubators and accelerators
  2. Research funding councils
  3. Research and technology organizations
  4. Innovation investment banks
  5. Innovation consultancy agencies

Incubators and Accelerators

The most popular innovation agencies out there that the public knows are incubators and accelerators, largely due to the Australian TV series “Shark Tank”. These institutions help early-stage companies and support them in terms of financing and mentorship.

Incubators and accelerators are essential for innovation because they help early-stage companies.

They provide these companies with the resources they need, exceptionally professional guidance, and help in resolving financial issues, allowing them to grow and develop their ideas.

A well-known example of this type is Y Combinator, an American startup accelerator, which was instrumental in launching popular companies including Dropbox, Twitch, Reddit, Airbnb, and Coinbase.

Research Funding Councils

Related to incubators and accelerators are research funding councils. These are agencies that provide public funding for scientific research and training.

They usually support projects that have potential commercial benefits. They are essential for innovation because they help scientists and researchers discover new ideas and concepts.

A good example of this is the seven councils of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). These seven councils work with universities, research organizations, businesses, charities, and government by funding through the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

Research and Technology Organizations

Another type of innovation agency is research and technology organizations (RTO). Though they aren’t about financial support, they are vital in establishing connections between players in the innovation world and help provide research and technology services.

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is an RTO that provides expert services for both private and public clients in speeding up research, development, and innovation to create new businesses and increase competitiveness.

Innovation Investment Banks

The type of innovation agency that focuses on financing is innovation investment banks. They are the ones who finance research and development done by businesses. They do this through loans, equity investments, and guarantees.

An example of this is the UK Innovation Investment Fund (IKIIF), in partnership with the British Business Bank. Together, they were able to commit £159 million for investment into various sectors in the UK including digital technologies, life sciences, clean technology, and others.

Innovation Consultancy Agencies

The last one is innovation consultancy agencies. These firms help private companies, organizations, and governments by providing strategic advice and direction on how to implement new business strategies for growth.

Accept Mission is an innovation firm that provides an innovation platform and advisory services including innovation strategy development, program development, and innovation training. With 10 years of experience in the field, we help speed up innovations and make optimizations to help you reach your goals.

How to work efficiently with an innovation agency?

As your organization grows, you should work with an innovation agency to stimulate growth, improve your current workflows, and increase your revenue gains. It can also help improve the performance of your employees and take advantage of opportunities.

Here are a few tips for working with innovation agencies:

1. Establish Goals and Expectations Right From the Start

It’s vital that the agency knows all the important information about the innovation project, your goals, and all the related information about your company or organization because this will help them understand your company culture and how you prefer to have your innovation activities.

It also helps to let the agency know about your budget as well as your deadlines.

Giving both your budget and timeline allows the innovation agency to plan their work in a way that best suits your company’s needs.

Doing so also helps you avoid any conflicts down the line as the agency gains a clear understanding of what outcomes you expect to gain out of working with them.

Discuss with your innovation agency the specific problems that you aim to solve so they can better understand what your company is looking for and how they can help you improve your current systems to generate the solutions you need.

Plus, this will help them give you more accurate advice and services.

Provide any relevant materials so the agency will be able to better support you. Make sure that the materials are easy to understand and that there is enough information for the agency to work with.

2. Ask for a Dedicated Contact Person

You’re probably not the only client that the agency has to deal with, so it’s essential to have a dedicated contact person within the agency to ensure that your company’s needs are being prioritized. And that communication is smooth regarding deliverables.

That’s why it’s important for you to know about the contact person in the agency. It’s usually the account manager or one of his assistants.

The agency’s contact person should be someone who is easily reachable and responsive so that you can get the information and assistance you need in a timely manner.

He or she should be readily available to answer any of your questions or concerns and provide updates on the project.

This person should also be able to understand your company’s culture and how you prefer to communicate so that they can adjust their communication style to best suit your needs.

On your side, get someone to function as your organization’s contact person for the innovation project. This will help ensure that there is always someone available on your end to provide information or feedback when needed.

It can be your innovation manager or director. What’s important here is that there is someone on your side dedicated to communicating with the agency and that nothing is lost between those lines.

3. Keep Your Communication Lines Open

This is related to the earlier tip. If you’re the contact person for your organization, make sure that your communication lines are open, especially during the kick-off period and in other important meetings.

It’s important to have regular communication with the agency, not just when you need something from them.

This will help ensure that both sides are updated on the project’s progress and that any problems are quickly addressed.

Keeping the lines of communication open also allows for a more collaborative relationship between the agency and your organization.

In addition, constant communication will also help build transparency between both parties in determining the progress and results of your upcoming tasks.

Since in-person communication is discouraged lately, ensure that the agency contact person has the right email address, phone number, or social media handle.

4. Schedule Regular Meetings

Regular meetings keep everyone up to date on what’s happening in innovation land. As the client, you will want to be regularly updated about the innovation projects that your organization is running.

This is your chance to give feedback, make decisions, and ensure that things are going as planned.

The innovation agency should also be updated on your company’s latest developments. This is so they can make necessary changes to their plans and ensure that the project is still relevant to your needs.

Make sure to not get carried away during these meetings. Keep these meetings concise. Focus on high-level updates and decisions that need to be discussed.

5. Gain a Better Understanding of the Innovation Process

To better connect with your innovation agency, it’s important for your organization’s decision-makers to understand the different stages of innovation. A decision will be made on every new initiative during each of the stages, so it will help if you know what these stages are.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, here are the six stages in executing an innovation project:

  • Problem finding
  • Solution finding
  • Experiment
  • Business plan
  • Development
  • Delivery

In addition, it will also help if you know more about the various innovation tools and techniques that agencies use.

6. Define a Clear Approval Process

As discussed from the tip above, there will be decisions that have to be made every step of the way. Make sure to let the agency know where the final approval must come from if it doesn’t come from you.

This will save your organization and the innovation agency plenty of time later on when you’re at the crossroads of different decisions that have to be made.

Why work with an innovation consultancy agency?

All the types of innovation agencies have benefits of their own. Many of these agencies provide financing and mentorship. They do this so you don’t have to worry about these things and enable you to focus more on your innovation projects.

In addition, you can also work with an innovation consultancy to help propel your business ideas and projects even further.

Unlike the other types of agencies, innovation consultancy firms like Accept Mission do more than mentorship.

For one, we help with the innovation program development itself. We provide expert assistance to help you tackle the challenges you are facing and help root out the main problem and find its best solutions or concepts.

Although we don’t provide financing, we help you ensure that you’re spending your budget the right way and that you’re going after the right objectives. We help in aligning your innovation goals with your business strategy.

The best part is that we will help you train your employees and teams to gain a better understanding of how to manage innovation more effectively. That way, your organization will be able to stand on its feet when it comes to innovation management.

Next steps: Working with an innovation consultancy firm will be one of the best steps forward in helping your organization realize all of your innovation projects. Make sure to get in touch to talk to one of our experts.

If you ever need to speed up your innovation and make optimizations to help you reach your business goals, feel free to send us a message here.

Published On: January 24th, 2021Categories: Innovation management

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