Here’s how your business idea could be Northern Ireland’s next success story

Innovation can come at the most unexpected time, and in the most unexpected of places. Whether it’s a touch of inspiration that comes from everyday life or an idea that came from a day at work, this kind of entrepreneurial mindset is something that should be encouraged.

esearch published in 2018 showed that only 39% of NorthernIreland businesses are actively engaged in innovation, ranking it 12 out of the12 UK regions.

However, it’s not all bad news! Northern Ireland has aproven track record in successful innovation; local inventors have createdworld changing innovations such as the defibrillator and the air-filled tyre. Inmore recent times, healthcare company Tri-Medika developed the non-contactthermometer and tech company Andor Technology is a key player in the world ofastronomy.

This unique heritage must continue to be nurtured. ImprovingNorthern Ireland’s innovation ranking requires a collective effort to support morecompanies to follow in the footsteps of these acclaimed innovators, whileencouraging those who are already actively innovating to recognise this andidentify proudly as being innovative.

That’s at the heart of why the Innovation Accreditation Programme was created by the Department for the Economy.Providing a platform that can help businesses get their ideas off the ground,it helps them understand where they are in their innovation journey andrecognises their achievement.

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Innovation is an idea, any idea, that is implemented and creates value. Providing help andsupport along the way to help ensure success at every turn, this programmeoffers businesses a chance to stand out in a way that could put be beneficialto both their brand and Northern Ireland as a whole.

This could be a new product, service, or business model thatpushes the envelope on what came before. Depending on where it is beingimplemented, it could even simply be a new process or a particular way ofcompleting a task!

Quite often it comes down to having an understanding of aproblem, and creating a way to resolve it. Once you have mapped out thisopportunity and how it could be useful to your business or to your customers,you’ve started the journey towards making it happen.

If you have an idea that you think could provide real value,the Innovation Self-Assessment is an excellent way to put it to the test. Followingreceipt of your innovation level and recognition, following the four-stepinnovation framework will help you make it a reality.

To help you understand how this works, the four-stepframework is as follows:

  • Ideation
  • Selection
  • Development
  • Commercialisation
  • Companies can follow the step-by-step process that couldmake their idea a reality, take for example the by following (fictional) innovationjourney of the Big Cheese Company. Already a successful business, their nextpotential idea was to sell cheese that has already been grated, increasingtheir profit margins.

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    Herein lies the potential for innovation, and following thefour-step process is what helps ensure the right decision is made. Testing theidea in supermarkets to see customers’ reactions, a prototype machine is madeand sell product samples in supermarkets.

    Having seen the results of this test, the next step is tocommercialise the original idea and create value. Charging a premium rate for aproduct that saves hassle for customers, it creates profits whilst being unlikeanything else on the market.

    That’s the framework, but now it’s up to the business ownersof Northern Ireland to step up to the plate. If you think you have a strongbusiness idea, taking the assessment is the best way to prove it!

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