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Author's profile photo Jean-Christophe PAZZAGLIA

Leverage Researchers and Students Creativity with Innovation Management

In this blog, we will investigate how Innovation Management can be applied in the Academic and Research world since Creativity is the essence of researchers and young talents’work, but let’s first described the main features of innovation management before sketching the HER use cases.

A year ago Innovation Management first release went live: its primary target boost bottom-up and collaborative innovation in R&D companies. In these companies, and SAP is one of them, the creativity of employees is awesome and, as a manager, you are soon overwhelmed by suggestions to improve office daily life, processes, products or radical new products.


Managing them, sorting the more promising and declining the others (the majority), enriching them, finding the right interlocutors, knowing if there are similar ideas in the company incubator is an immense task and soon become frustrating for the idea promoter. Recurrence of the frustration may impact the wish to share ideas and may in the long run decrease the motivation.

This is exactly these tasks that Innovation Management organizes and facilitates, but contrary to an idea box, Innovation Management is not a black hole where ideas disappear and selection processes are unknown. While the front end is appealing – with for example the recent introduction of the wall feature (see SAP Innovation Management – SAP Wall as embedded creativity feature – YouTube) to collaborate between creators – the real strength of Innovation Management resides in the back office tools to coach creators and to guide the ideas toward the different stages.

Picture4.pngAs shown in the figure, the process supported by Innovation Management is transparent, highly collaborative and is:

  • enabling everybody to share, enrich and merge ideas;
  • introducing the notion of coach to push the creators to refine their ideas or to provide complementary information (eg. business values, feasibility);
  • providing the infrastructure to assess ideas by providing evaluation methods and managing the experts community.

This process is entirely managed with a modern UX enabling interaction with mobile devices but also built-in analytics. (see the comprehensive  SAP Innovation Management Live Demo – YouTube).

Higher Education and Research Use Cases

Once said, the next question is to understand if this solution of guided innovation can be applied in the Academic and Research world since Creativity is the essence of researchers and young talents’work.

Before moving forward, we should highlights some capabilities of Innovation Management that are priceless for our use cases:

  • every innovation areas – campaigns – can be time bounded or not, and their customization are campaign specific(cf. next points) see SAP Innovation Management – Defining an innovation process for a campaign – YouTube.
  • you can manage large population of users, creators, coaches, field experts, coming from different horizons;
  • the process is totally customizable: ideas can be shared early or hidden to the community, ideas’templates or specific fields can be used to insure that the necessary information is available during the  evaluation,  the number of stages can be adapted to your need;
  • the library of evaluation methods can be extended and different one can be associated at every steps, they can be collaborative (eg. voting) or form based (eg. to collect precise evaluation metrics) – see SAP Innovation Management – Creating an Evaluation Method – YouTube.

Picture1.pngAll of these characteristics enable to use Innovation Management in a variety of domains across the institutions but also to involve different people (eg. companies, parents, financers, external researchers) that are usually not or lately involved in the innovation process with an easy to use and modern interface. The scenarios that we imagine can tackle different areas of the Institution. Let’s review them.

Institution Improvement

Daily life Improvement: The idea is to enable every students and staff members to suggest enhancement to the institution daily life (eg. processes, facilities, time). The main added value will be to stream line the process, to enable a prescreening of the ideas by the community and to quickly filter duplicates or recurring requests that were disposed in the past.

Picture3.pngLectures and Curriculum

Lecture feedback: It is nowadays common to gather feedback on lecture and lecturers on a regular basis. Innovation management will provide an easy way to gather the feedback from students (acting as experts). The advantages will be to enable to populate the experts per lecture from your curriculum management system but also to provide a modern UX to your students.

Curriculum Evolution: A more innovating idea maybe is to use Innovation Management to improve the evolution of the curriculum. In this case not only professors, but also students and professionals (eg. collaborators, employers of students) can submit their ideas or act as experts to evaluate the proposals and suggests technology and methods that will bring unique value to the curriculum.

Entrepreneurship of Students and Researchers

Boosting Innovation: Which PhD student or Researcher never discussed with his peers to make a startup building on his latest results or a crazy idea? How many of these dreams did not disappear after the coffee break while rushing to meet the deadline for the next publication submission? Certainly not all of these ideas will enable to become the next Facebook or Google but did they get the chance to move forward ? On the triptych feasibility-desirability-viability researchers typically excel in tackling the first item, and coaches from the business and financial sides can help to move forward on the other points. Ideally, the selection process can be open in the latest stages to investors that may finance it and support the creation of institute’s spin-off.

Picture2.pngResearch funding

Project pre-award phase: project based funding is becoming utterly important to sustain the research effort in institution. In large and respected institutions, researchers are solicited by a lot of partners on top of their own ideas. Due to time pressure during the call for proposal stage, exchange between researchers may become rare: the consequence is that proposals may compete with similar ideas that may have benefited to be merged. Junior researcher may also feel to be excluded at this stage. Innovation Management can be used during the whole process starting even before the call for proposals stage to collect ideas from all researchers and even across departments, to inform researchers about the incoming calls – reflecting them as campaigns, to select the ideas and consortium to participate to a specific calls in each department, and finally to insure that the financial and legal departments are involved to insure proposals ‘compliance.

Internal funding: On top of projects funded by external institutions, universities are distributing funding to the different teams. This amount can be significant and often internal call for funding are organized in a very similar way – albeit lighter – than the way grantors are running their call for proposals. Still this involved to publish the calls, to collect proposals, to review them – quite often managing independent experts, and to grant funds to the respective departments. While Innovation Management is not a full fledge grantor management system – especially with respect to the financial side and the claim related processes, we perceive that it will be an ideal platform to manage these processes and especially the interactions with external experts.

Due to his agility we believe than Innovation Management may support universities and research institutions to manage important existing processes in an intuitive way (eg. Project pre-award phase:, Internal funding, Lecture feedback), but also to improve some of their weaknesses by bringing together internal and external stakeholders (eg. Boosting Innovation and Curriculum Evolution). Other scenarios like CFP to seminars or Patent and Invention Disclosure can also be envisaged. Finally, Innovation Management can be deployed on the cloud but also on-premise for sensitive domains and connectivity can be developped with other components.

While some scenarios are straightforward extensions of the R&D use cases and customers are using Innovation Management daily, we will be interested to know your feedback on the more academic scenarios so do not hesitate to leave a comment or to drop us a message.

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