Refuse the status quo – innovation researcher

Writing in the Press, Prof John Fairweather of Lincoln University shares some of his insights into how innovation works in New Zealand.

Prof Fairweather undertook a Government-funded research programme to identify conditions under which socio-technical networks best foster technology development, adoption and commercialisation. His perspective article in the Press gives an idea of what is needed to become a ‘user innovator’.

An excerpt (read in full here):

The way forward for innovative nation

What a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? How many times have you said this, or heard it said, about an exciting new development, product, process or system? Maybe you did think of it but put it out of your mind because you thought it would be all too hard and too costly to do something about it.

If, as New Zealander of the Year Sir Paul Callaghan says, New Zealand needs 100 additional large companies to come up with and export niche products, then why don’t we take the “knowledge economy” concept one step further and promote an “ideas and innovation economy”?

Let’s have a country in which ideas, inventions and innovations are actively encouraged right across the board, from Government back-up to popular support through initiatives such as national competitions, a dedicated website for sharing information, the ready availability of hands-on help and mentoring assistance, and even a new Kiwi-specific television programme along the lines of the old Dragons’ Den series.

New Zealanders are good at invention and innovation and it is an important part of our history, often attributed to our pioneering background and No 8 wire mentality.

Kiwis have always shown that they can recognise a need, invent something new, and sell it successfully on world markets, but encouragement of this quality hasn’t historically been part of our economic strategising.

At Lincoln University, in the course of a research programme funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology called Technology Users’ Innovation (TUI), our work has included looking at a special type of innovation called “user innovation”.

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