Entrepreneurial Innovation: New Knowledge

Learning new things promotes new innovations. This is what keeps progress moving forward. When compared to other sources of innovation, though, new knowledge differs on a few characteristics: time span, convergence, predictability, and increased risks.

Time Span There is typically a significant period of time between the discovery of new knowledge and its successful application into technologies. While the time between discovery and application is getting shorter and shorter, entrepreneurs must consider this time lag.

Convergence The stars must align for effective innovation based on new knowledge. In the development of the Wright Brother’s airplane two specific knowledge bases had to collide: the understanding of aerodynamics as derived from experiments with gliders and the gasoline engine as designed for the car by Benz and Daimler. All the pieces must be available and able to come together at the same time in order for this type of innovation to be successful.

Predictability Unlike innovation based on demographics, innovation on new knowledge is highly unpredictable. One can never know when someone will have a major scientific break through or when pieces of a puzzle will converge like never before. Instead of planning ahead, innovators on new knowledge must be prepared to react.

Risks New discoveries attract a great many innovators. This means that as an entrepreneur, you will be competing with a significant number of people. If you are successful, you will likely be highly profitable; but there is also greater danger for failure. Also, the train of progress rolls on. If you choose to innovate on one new discovery, you may miss the next more profitable discovery down the road. Innovators in this space are constantly working against the clock.

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