The leadership deficit of the construction products industry impairs innovation. Leadership is especially important in the complex value network of construction and an innovation environment where networking is a must, says LicTech Markku Vesa in his dissertation.
– The innovation environment of the construction products industry is challenging especially since the end-client is easily overlooked in the long value chain. As the primary client of the products industry, the construction company, must pay special attention to the acquisition price, the situation is not conducive to development and introduction of novel solutions and products, at least not risky ones. If an innovation is systemic and changes various costs, their impact on total construction costs cannot be estimated well enough, Vesa continues.
Vesa has found that innovation activity in companies of the construction products industry is for the most part quite strategy oriented. Companies only wish to develop ideas connected to current or planned new business operations. The other aspect of business strategy, definition of competitive advantages, on the other hand, receives less attention. The search for ideas to foster innovations is also a poorly internalized area of management by the companies. Systematic work in that area is seldom done.
Construction companies are the most important innovation partner
Vesa’s research showed that the construction products industry often needs specifically a construction company as a partner in innovation since development without testing in practical projects is impossible. Smooth cooperation requires agreements on sharing risks and benefits in a way that profits both parties. More cooperation with users and owners is also required.
– No company has all the knowledge required to generate innovations. Networking and cooperation between universities, research institutes and many other parties is also a must, Vesa stresses.
Development of excellence requires perseverance
Markku Vesa played a significant role in the establishment of RYM Oy and devising its initial research strategy. He points out that the key goal was to generate superior world-class expertise and competitiveness in select spearhead areas. The intention was to discover new knowledge and ideas for creating company-specific innovations through leading-edge research that is extensively networked even internationally.
– Creation of world-class expertise is a long process. Research should go on in selected areas of highest potential and expertise be developed for the long term: in principle it should be open-ended. Some significant know-how has already been created in the thematic areas of the PRE and the Indoor Environment programs, but much can still be done to deepen it, Vesa believes.
Innovations are born from passion and willingness to take risks
Vesa thinks that enterprises should be much more active in presenting new research ideas. Above all, they must be able to estimate the true competitive advantage that they expect their research efforts to provide.
– Innovation generation requires an encouraging corporate culture and strong strategic leadership. Innovation management must be based on a vision. Efforts must be taken to discover opportunities, not only threats. That is not easy and requires a sufficient input of time and resources. There must also be willingness to take risks and accept failures. Everything cannot be pre-planned, Vesa concludes.
For further information:
Markku Vesa, Phone 0400 314 703, firstname.lastname@example.org