Some personal innovation irritation.

This might sound a bit harsh and perhaps I shouldn’t write this down as I’m still trying to find (financial) support for our project and cause but on the other hand, why not…

Governmental innovation supporting instances lack vision and understanding of what true innovation is. Innovation is rather hard and difficult to evaluate. I don’t get their metrics as they don’t get my concept. From experience I can already ask, without knowing these people very well, nor personally, nor professionally, do they have clue?

Firstly, I discussed the project which I was funding already myself with IBBT. They rejected it. They don’t say they did, but when people tell me they want to support us only if we have proven it could work where the scholarship we applied for was just intended therefor, it did ring an alarm bell. How ever could an iStart funding – given to research the market potential of your business or to build a working prototype – be given to someone when the argumentation of rejection was that it should already have a working prototype, it should be secure, have a userbase and lastly, but probably most important fit into one of there existing research tracks.

I don’t think that got anything to do with innovation, but more with applied science. How would you fit real innovation in a box? I reject the thinking that everything should fit in a box or in their case, in a research track. Off course break-through innovation often comes from highly intelligent academics. But I believe the real drivers of what’s happening nowadays in the online world is driven by geeks, nerds and other people who whole-heartedly try to solve real life problems. Accidental innovation or innovation by trial and error, are mostly not backed by studies or research tracks that take 2 year.

If you haven’t got a clue whether your idea is innovation, it probably isn’t… Give trial and error money to people to fail and to fail fast. I believe there will be more outcomes that are viable than with these dreadful research tracks. Innovation will prosper when handled like that. Not when thought to dead…

My second attempt to raise some money was crowd funding. The noblest of all funding, I believe. Although I followed all the rules to set up the best possible crowd funding campaign on indiegogo, I found out that we were too early to get funded by people. People don’t invest in a vision, only in tangible things with a clear benefit for themselves. I could have attempted to raise money for world peace and got more money raised…
Honestly, I’m pretty happy I didn’t raise more than this 100 USD. If you break down what is left… A mere 40 EUR… That’s not much right?

I still don’t give up in finding some government funding. But it’ll be my last time I try this. For our new attempt, we get help from innovatiecentrum who helps us in writing the perfect case for IWT. We have to make the case ourselves but we are in a constant feedback loop so we get his tips and tricks to make it ‘as expected’. What strikes me is that we need to invest time to explain what we are not, why others fail, etc. The focus asked for is clearly on the other initiatives. Not on ourselves. I found that a bit strange. And in fact that’s what I’m encountering up to date. The focus is in writing the business plan for our innovation is in fact only halve of what they find of interest. The other halve is in addressing an audience by knowing and evaluating the existing.

To me, it’s a bit like aiming to be the best and cleverest in class. I am not that guy. And I don’t want to become that guy but I think I have developed my creative thinking skills through the years. I’m always looking for solutions. It’s not that I don’t see problems but I rather develop the opportunity that comes with it. I do question why something doesn’t work. But my focus is on how we can make something work. Even though that means tearing it down completely and building it from scratch whilst looking at it from a different angle.

That’s not so different in perception perhaps, but to me that is fundamental. Innovation is more than writing a business plan. It just making things happen. It can be completely new or it can be a clever combination of (un-)proven things.

We don’t have a culture in which entrepreneurship or innovation is fostered. We learned to focus on the problems and only take the short term in account. At school, we learned that we needed to improve our weak points. I am a strong defender of exploring and exploiting ones strengths, rather than to lift our other, least developed competences to an average level. People should be stimulated or pushed to excel in what they are passionate about. When I was young, I tried a lot of sports. Whatever sport I was involved in, my level never excelled. I was average to good except for skiing. But my parents didn’t let me. I even had to play handball – the one sport I really dislike because there is no technicity in it.

I start to believe that these instances who have innovation money to share, are looking for qualities that make the weak average. I think the portfolio of projects and businesses supported by these instances speak for themselves. I understand that the instances that ‘own’ this innovation money are mostly government supported and therefore need an academic approach. But I don’t like it. I know this is not the way innovation should get stimulated.

So although I don’t like writing a business plan, I’m back on it… And I’m a fast learner so the money should come our way soon. 🙂


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