AAS Open Research

The secrets to commercializing R&D innovations and creating successful businesses

Most new business ventures fail, with only one-out-of-ten startups succeeding into successful and sustained enterprises. So, Anderson Gwanyebit Kehbila, Stockholm Environment Institute, and grantee of the CR4D programme for his research on modelling the transition towards a low-carbon economy in the East African Community, has also been working on improving strategy and innovation management. In this blog, Anderson presents his go to market innovation strategy for entrepreneurs, discussing four key components that can help drive and sustain business performance. 

The Climate Research for Development (CR4D) programme strengthens links between climate science research and climate information needs to support development planning in Africa. CR4D is implemented through the AESA Platform. AESA (The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa) is a funding, agenda-setting, programme management initiative of  the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in partnership with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and with the support of Wellcome, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).

Creating and sustaining successful businesses, most often with limited resources and little or no business acumen, can be incredibly challenging. To help make this process a little easier, I’ve outlined four creative ways to build management knowledge for transformational entrepreneurs, regardless of their background, who seek to take game-changing innovations or social enterprises to the next generation of transformative change.

I recently published, “The entrepreneur’s go-to-market innovation strategy”, which highlights the fundamental decision-support tools required to help transformational entrepreneurs and social enterprises reshape industries and drive growth and profitability, including how to develop: a competitive business strategy, an innovative product or service, an innovative business model, and a product investment strategy. These are the basic analytical tools required by transformational entrepreneurs and social enterprises to fully understand their competitive landscape and succeed in the long term.

Critical analyses

Developing a competitive business strategy requires critical analysis of the five forces that shape competition, an assessment of market potential and attractiveness, and identifying a company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats in its competitive environment. These analyses are essential to paint a complete picture of the factors influencing profitability within an industry and to establish a strong competitive position in the market.

The right product, right time, and place  

Optimizing a product or service requires a thorough understanding of unmet customer needs and identification of market opportunities to align a product or service to the right market (product-market fit). Innovation strategies and processes that are focused on delivering customer value by putting the right product or service at the right place, at the right price and the right time, are needed.

Gaining a competitive advantage

Although product and service innovations are essential to achieve a durable competitive advantage, business model innovation drives top-line growth and bottom-line efficiency, particularly in disruptive times. In fact, many businesses with innovative products and a strong technical team eventually fail because they lack an innovative business model to take their product or service innovations to the next generation of transformative change. Thus, embedding tightly connected and mutually supportive business processes and policies into organizational culture to create, deliver and capture value are crucial in driving highly accelerated growth, differentiating visionary companies from its competitors.

Sustaining business growth

Financial analysis is a key component to sustaining business growth and profitability. It supports the business investment decision making of entrepreneurs and managers to attain and sustain a competitive advantage. The metrics of such analyses include Return on Investment (ROI), Net Present Value (NPV), payback period and Internal Rate of Return (IRR).

Support and reinforcement

Creating and running a successful business for the long-term requires powerful alignment mechanisms that support and reinforce the four components of strategic innovation management: strategic planning, business model innovation, product or service innovation and financial planning. Embedding these four components into a company’s business plan enables visionary entrepreneurs and social enterprises to set themselves up for major success.