"The value of an idea lies in the using of it”, is the famous quote by Thomas Edison. The value of innovations is nothing until they are rolled out and scaled up.
‘Beyond Meat’ is a producer of plant-based meat substitutes. It has changed the way people eat. Their vegan burger is meant to look, cook, taste and even “bleed” like red meat, but it is supposed to be healthier and more sustainable.
The company has famous investors like Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio and even former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. Since their debut at Whole Foods in May 2016, Beyond Burger patties have made their way into tens of thousands of supermarkets, restaurants, and even sports stadiums around the world. Shares soared 163% above their $25 offering price on their first day of trading and kept rising. They have succeeded to scale up their grandiose idea. What makes some organizations succeed in implementing and create a market value for their ideas? And why do others fail to do the same?
You might have heard about the Swedish innovation paradox. Swedish R&D expenditures are high, but do not produce enough economic return on investments. This empirical paradox is part of a more general debate concerning relations between R&D and growth. All in all, it comes back to the need for a roll-out plan and financial strategy for long-term profitability or social-added value. Once the ecosystem of value creating partners are in place, your dream investors are on board, the first stages of prototyping and piloting is over, you need to have a roll-out plan and predestined trajectory of your idea to reach its full potential. Scaling up is at least partly a question of management.
In our study material we have several examples of the difficulty of making reality of an idea and making it reach the market. Several of our respondents reveal that one key factor for success in their project was an enthusiast or driving spirit at the company that made the innovation bloom. One person (or several) that never let go, that doesn’t back off at first signs of resistance. Someone that follows through to the end. Someone that can open the right doors, know the right people and get things to happen. Some of the cases we have been studying have failed to reach the project objectives. These cases have had some challenges in common - they have been trying to implement tech that have not yet been mature enough, they have been stopped due to various hazards, or they have not been able to cope with legal obstacles. They might all have benefitted from a more comprehensive roll-out plan.
Identify enthusiasts to perform the implementation.
"We are great at innovation in the collaboration model here in Sweden. But on the other hand, capitalizing on our new products, that’s a whole other thing. That’s something we are pretty bad at. That’s the Swedish innovation paradox.”
Jan Hellåker, Lindholmen Science Park (Drive Me)
"It has been a difficult journey, a lot of resistance from different parties. A project like this requires cultural change - to move system boundaries and demolish structural walls. The city of Kiruna has good conditions – it is a small town in a small municipality with short decision paths. At the same time we have limited financial resources. So we couldn’t just “Shop around”, we needed to have a structured economical plan."
Mats Nilsson, Tekniska Verken Kiruna (Kiruna Sustainability Center)
"I have total transparency with our CEO. I call him up and tell him about new ideas. We agree on what resources are needed to develop the idea to the next stage. That might be to turn it into a first prototype. Then we discuss if it turned out to be promising, if so we develop it further.”
Sverker Lindbo, Ocado Group (SoMa & SecondHands)
"Our ambition is always to develop the idea into a practical implementation not just to let it end up in a Proof of Concept-graveyard. We are not into “just trying”, we are into actualizing. Only then is it possible to motivate risk takers and “control freaks” to invest in innovation.”
Mats Snäll, Lantmäteriet (Future homebuyers in the block chain)
"What happens next? Doing small scale is easy but scaling up is hard. One big challenge is policy regulations. Legal frameworks require an understanding of the consequences of technology, and yet gaining that understanding needs us to test in as realistic setting and as realistic scale as possible. While Piloting is often ok, beyond that new challenges arise."
Amy Loufti, Örebro University (Digital twin city and AI.MEE project)
"One huge challenge has been to get permission to use cameras as sensors, due to GDPR. It is extremely time consuming to influence these types of processes. You need to join different committees and work with them - take responsibility for taking the discussion forward. It is all about policy development. Eg. finding out who needs to be informed and invited in order to take this one step further. It is about not giving up. And about teaming up with others that share your purpose.” Jesper Hedlund, Örebroporten Fastigheter AB (Digital twin city and AI.MEE project)
If you are interested in reading more about rolling-out and scaling up, we recommend the following cases: Qvinna, Blindsquare, 3D printed houses, Bio Packaging - MakeGrowLab, SoMa and SecondHands - Ocado, Biochar from garden waste.