Innovation platform is a way of assembling different expertise with the aim of finding a solution to a problem or achieving set goals. The stakeholders identify the issues that affect a majority of them or majority of the businesses and develop ways on how to combat them. Interests of each organization or persons are considered in the platforms and each individual proposes a way to getting a solution. Innovation platform are mainly employed by private entities to collect information and enhance their networking between the many stakeholders in the sector, especially economically. However, innovation platforms may have their own constraints and so they must be utilized with caution.
Learning and change
As mentioned above, innovation platform comprises of different stakeholders; be it farmers, bankers, or doctors etc., they often come together for a solution to their common interest. These stakeholders design activities which may be implemented together or individually. The platforms takes into consideration the challenges the stakeholders face and the opportunities available to them from a lower to level to the highest ever attainable level, in the nation, in the economy or the consumer chains. For instance in agribusiness, the innovation platforms are useful particularly because agribusiness is affected by many different problems ranging from biophysical, political factors, to socio-economic ones. In the business world, these platforms are used to identify strategies that improve the performance of employees, products and services and the productivity of the firm at large. Innovation platforms can be used to establish ways in which resources are managed, and how to deal with a changing consumer environment, while in field such as agriculture to deal with changing climate.
Innovation platform cycle
Innovation platforms follows seven key steps as discussed below.
1. Initiation: any stakeholder or organization can initiate this process. An organization can identify the scope of the innovation platform and the stakeholders likely to be included in the platform, assemble the together and hold the very first meeting briefs. During the meetings, one member is selected to facilitate the process.
2. Focal point decision: the different stakeholders that convene during the first meeting openly air their problems and opportunities available among their organizations and refine them into common areas of interest. Before deciding on the focus, they will gather information from different sources; research, policies, current practices and general knowledge.
4. Testing and refining solutions: proposed solutions must be tested on a smaller scale before they are adapted into a larger scale.
5. Development of capacity: training of stakeholders that will be involved in the bringing of the solution to the firm should be done after the solutions have been adapted. This may involve farmer in agricultural sectors, engineers in the construction sector etc.,
6. Implementation and scaling up of the solutions: after testing has been successful and capacity building has been done, it is time to scale up the solutions and incorporate in the whole business or among the involved organizations. One major thing here is to make the adapted solution public by educating the public.
7. Analysis and learning: careful monitoring, learning and analysis from the implemented solution’s success is important. This serves as a feedback.
Benefits and constraints
Innovation platforms provide solutions to existing problems among the corporates, motivates owners of their solutions and facilitate focused communication while on the other hand these platforms consume time, require full cooperation of stakeholders and are difficult to monitor.
- Klerkx, L., van Mierlo, B. and Leeuwis, C. 2012. Evolution of systems approaches to agricultural innovation: Concepts, analysis and interventions. In: Darnhofer, I., Gibbon, D. and Dedieu, B. (eds), Farming systems research into the 21st century: The new dynamic. Dordrecht: Springer: 457–83.
- Lundy, M.,Gottret, M.V. and R. Best. 2012. Linking research and development actors through learning alliances in agricultural innovation systems: An investment sourcebook. Washington, DC: World Bank. 344–348.
- Nederlof, S., Wongtschowski, M. and van der Lee, F. 2011. Putting heads together. Agricultural innovation platform in practice. Bulletin 396. Amsterdam: KIT.
- Pali, P. and Swaans, K. 2013. Guidelines for innovation platforms: Facilitation, monitoring and evaluation. ILRI Manual 8. Nairobi: ILRI.