Knowledge Creation : Globalization and Exponential Growth

This article is the second of a series about knowledge acceleration and fragmentation, after Knowledge Flood and Change Acceleration. Globalization of knowledge creation For the first time in 2012, Chinese residents accounted for the largest number of patents filed throughout the world (World Intellectual Property Indicators, December 2013). The Chemical Abstracts Service data (the same data that in the previous article) were analyzed with regard to the geographical origins of the authors. The resulting geographic distribution of each year’s publications is shown in the figure. It appears that the growth deficit observed in the figure during the 1980s was due to the collapse of the USSR and the associated countries pulling out of the knowledge-creation race, presumably temporarily. The most significant long-term

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Knowledge Flood and Change Acceleration

This article is a first of a series about knowledge acceleration and fragmentation.  Examining the past century, we can see that the rates of both knowledge creation and innovation have accelerated. It is sometimes difficult for people of our time to appreciate the quantity of knowledge that humankind has accumulated throughout history. A mental exercise that may help consists of scanning the inventory of knowledge that forms the basis for modern items such as the mobile phone, the hybrid car, weather forecasting, breast cancer treatment, and so forth. Let us begin with the oral wisdom of our ancestors, and then consider the knowledge of ancient Greek philosophers as Archimedes and Pythagoras, and finally proceed, layer by layer, through knowledge created

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When startups disrupt the space industry: Interview with Ane Aanesland, co-founder and CEO of ThrustMe

Recent years have seen a variety of new players enter the space industry. One domain ripe for disruption is the satellite propulsion market, with technological breakthroughs championed by startups such as ThrustMe. At Presans, we take a professional interest in disruption in all shapes and forms, so we took the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with ThrustMe co-founder and CEO Ane Aanesland. What’s your take on the ongoing space revolution? I think we’re at the start of a significant wave of disruption in the satellite industry. The miniaturization of satellites has opened up and democratized the access to space related activities that before were only accessible to large corporations and government agencies. Small satellites only 1 to

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How Kodak Missed The Turn…

The first and second previous articles were the beginning of a series about Innovation Waves. This article is the third of the series, and is taking the example of Kodak to illustrate the threat that innovation waves can pose to established companies. In the mid-1970s, Steven Sasson, a young electrical engineer, was hired by Eastman Kodak, at that time the world leader in silver-based photography. He was a member of a team that was incorporating electronic commands into film cameras. He was asked to evaluate a new CCD chip from Fairchild Imaging (containing ten thousand pixels!) and took the concept so far that he actually invented the first portable digital camera. The prototype was a proof of concept but was

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Knowledge for Innovation: Parallel Worlds

In the previous articles of this series, we wrote about Internal Knowledge, Time Horizon, Frontier Sciences, Academic Knowledge and Learning and Experience.  Here we deal with Parallel Worlds. Parallel worlds, shown in the figure as a box between learning and experience and the company’s in-house knowledge, contain industrial knowledge far from the standard knowledge base of the company’s own industry. The piece of knowledge may be unexpected and not present in the existing knowledge base of the company’s industry but applicable to the company’s situation. For example, a metal packaging company trying to conceive a fraud-resistant container for medicine will have a good chance of being inspired by exploring knowledge in the banknote and credit card printing industry. This is a

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Knowledge for Innovation: Learning and Experience

In the previous articles of this series, we wrote about Internal Knowledge, Time Horizon, and Frontier Sciences and Academic Knowledge. Here we deal with Learning and Experience. Learning and experience, the accumulated knowledge carried by an individual, is the box shown to the left of academic knowledge in the figure. It is the sum of an individual’s education, which also belongs in the area of academic knowledge, and experience. As such, it is a complex collection peculiar to each individual. When trying to understand and explain the mysterious mechanisms that made them follow a path that nobody ever followed before them, many inventors refer to some long-ago, fortuitous event that left a mark on his or her mind. A person who

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Knowledge for Innovation: Academic Knowledge

In the previous articles of this series, we wrote about Internal Knowledge, Time Horizon, and Frontier Sciences. Here we deal with Academic Knowledge. The natural fate of frontier knowledge is to rapidly pass to the most advanced laboratories and academic teams in the relevant field, as indicated by the box labeled academic knowledge and shown to the left of the one labeled frontier sciences in the figure. They then reprocess and test the new discovery and evaluate all fruitful applications and potentials extensions of the concept. A critical task usually done at this stage is the reformulation of the new knowledge into wording more accessible to a larger number of people and disseminating it via review papers and conference keynote

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Knowledge for Innovation: Frontier Sciences

Knowledge is the fuel of innovation. In the previous articles we wrote about internal knowledge and about time horizon. This article is about Frontier Sciences. Further away from the daily activity of most companies, we have located the new knowledge generated by basic research or emerging application fields. We call these the frontier sciences. At the beginning nobody knows how soon this new knowledge will be relevant to industrial innovation. However, this new knowledge certainly has an intrinsic potential for creating novel combinations that will affect the industry eventually. Important discoveries penetrate industry as waves with associated delays. The typical delay and duration varies widely; electricity came as huge wave but slowly, stretching on for half a century. Conversely, it took

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Knowledge for Innovation: Trends and Environment for Innovation Deployment Horizon

Knowledge is at the source of the rationale for the key decisions that shape and drive an innovation project. Relevant knowledge can come from a wide variety of sources. Winners at the innovation game are the best at rapidly seeking, filtering, digesting, and interpreting the appropriate knowledge. In the previous article we wrote about Internal Knowledge. We have positioned on the left side of the figure all knowledge related to the industrial and social environment in which a potential innovation project should be considered. This knowledge is typically acquired by a company when defining its strategy. However, when an innovative concept is proposed, it is very important to revisit the environment for the proposed project. By environment, we mean the broad,

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Knowledge for Innovation: Internal Knowledge Flow

Knowledge is at the source of the rationale for the key decisions that shape and drive an innovation project. Relevant knowledge can come from a wide variety of sources. Winners at the innovation game are the best at rapidly seeking, filtering, digesting, and interpreting the appropriate knowledge. Relevant knowledge comes first from within the company contemplating the new endeavor. Although it may be considered obvious, we take this opportunity to stress the importance of the internal knowledge transfer shown as the upper vertical arrows in the figure. Above all, the innovation drive must be consistent with the company’s strategy. This requirement is not as easy to satisfy as you may think. In real life, company strategies are often vague, wishful,

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