Irish firms, innovate to survive: entrepreneurship expert

26 Mar 2010

Irish companies must innovate, otherwise they will disappear from the market, a leading entrepreneurship expert has warned.

However, according to Prof Peter Russo, founder and director of the Strascheg Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the European Business School in Frankfurt, the real innovation bottleneck faced by companies lies not in generating good ideas but in successfully commercialising them.

Russo made his comments last night as he delivered the InterTradeIreland 2010 Innovation Lecture at University College Dublin.

According to Russo, if companies are to successfully commercialise their good ideas they must engage in corporate entrepreneurship, which means giving their employees the freedom to act as entrepreneurs and creating an entrepreneurial environment within their workplaces.

Corporate entrepreneurship leads to innovation

“Effective innovation is the primary source of sustainable competitive advantage in the 21st century.  Irish companies are left with no choice but to innovate, otherwise they will disappear from the market. Corporate entrepreneurship is a key way to make innovation happen inside established organisations,” Russo explained.

He added: “It is also a vehicle for the innovative opportunities which don’t fit neatly into a company’s core business. Corporate entrepreneurship is a strategic answer to the challenge of organic growth.”

According to Russo, corporate entrepreneurship is the driver to sustainable leadership and also to corporate success for Irish companies.

Bridging gap between research and industry

Welcoming Russo to UCD, Dr Pat Frain, director of UCD’s technology transfer centre NovaUCD, said: “We recognise the importance of corporate entrepreneurship and innovation especially in the current economic climate. Bridging the gap between academic research and industry and building long-term strategic partnerships is a key element of the university’s commercialisation strategy and a major factor in promoting corporate innovation in Ireland.

“In the past five years, more than 50 licence agreements were concluded by UCD with a range of indigenous and international companies. It is also important to recognise the critical role that established companies can play in working with NovaUCD to support the establishment of new ventures to commercialise innovative ideas, many of which are generated by university research,” he said.

“Innovation is critical to the future of both economies, North and South. As markets contract, businesses need to become more innovative in aligning their products and services to market needs and exploiting new opportunities quickly,” added Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland Strategy & Policy Director.

Photo: Prof Peter Russo, European Business School, Germany, prior to delivering the InterTradeIreland2010 Innovation Lecture at University College Dublin

Photo: Nick Bradshaw, fotonic

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