Where innovation flourishes?

Innovation is an idea or invention turned into a product or solution that people are willing to pay for. Everyone has ideas, some make them turn into inventions but where do innovations come from? What does it cost to develop innovation?  If you would need to name the greatest innovations this year what would those be and from which companies?

I have listed my personal favorites below:

1. Crowd funding.  The crowd funding platform Kickstarter.com has made gigantic leap 2012 when measured in quantity and quality as also in amount of money raised by  projects. It has revolutionized the way designers and engineers can test quality and market interest of their ideas with very minimum capital. Pebble watch is the most successful project when measured in capital raised but more importantly than raising millions for few, Kickstarter has given the birth push for a huge number of new companies. Personally for me Kickstarter was THE enabler to start our company Wish Bros. Inc. when we raised $29,858 with our Wishbhone project.

2. 3D printing. Shapeways, Objet and Makerbot. These companies are in the forefront of 3D printing which is getting more accurate and cheaper then anyone could have imagined a decade ago. Turning idea into physical prototype is as easy as ordering take away food. For the price of  a pizza you get a solid plastic 3D printed prototype of your own design delivered on to your door within a week of order. New printing technologies, materials and innovative 3D modelling tools as TinkerCAD will push this technology into mass consumer markets. Will we print our table wear in the near future out of recyclable materials or can we purchase products from online stores and print them out at our own home instead of getting it delivered via mail is yet to be seen but revolution has begun.

3. Peer 2 peer services. AirBnB, an accommodation service where anyone can accommodate travelers at their own homes, Ravintolapäivä, event where anyone can open their own restaurant for one day or any of the online services where people can sell their smartphone pictures for journalists’ use. All of these services are suddenly empowering consumers to become service providers.

If not all, most of the previously mentioned companies are founded during last few years and are considered to be start ups with very limited resources and R&D budgets. In comparison year 2010 Nokia spent $7,731 ,538,100 for R&D, Ericsson $4,998,698,399 and Microsoft $9,500,000,000. Combining R&D budgets of only those three companies the amount reflects total budget of 20,000 small to medium sized start ups.

This comparison is not made to depreciate R&D efforts of the large enterprises but to show that there is possibilities and room for anyone to create success stories despite the budget. I am glad to see how Finland and especially Aalto University have been able to keep up with the trend. Just this week there has been many positive news about the launch of Rovio’s Star Wars themed angry bird game, success of mobile game company Cupercell and launch of a new foundation for entrepreneurs in co-operation with Aalto Entrepreneurship society and Startup sauna. Helsinki Spring turned into summer and fall but the big wheel keeps on turning!

What do you consider the greatest innovations this year?

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