Escaping the valley of death in the industrial world
Future-proofing and greening industries requires an efficient method of bringing new technologies to the market. Is there a viable way to make industrial processes more sustainable? How can we make old, dirty process plants clean & green?
During the first stages of innovation, when an idea is in development, costs are typically so high that many investors are reluctant to part with their money. It’s much riskier to invest in the early stages when you don’t yet know if a product is feasible. Most first designs never even make it to the feasibility study stage, meaning potentially sustainable innovations are dropped too frequently and too early.
This is an infamous phenomenon in the innovation industry, known as the ‘Valley of Death’. This point of no return, where too many new ideas going through the innovation process are failing to progress, is causing us to miss out on huge potential.
Industrial manufacturers know the importance of investing a lot in innovation but often struggle to find the right tools or products in ongoing projects. Meaningful, energy-efficient, CleanTech solutions within the industrial sector are slipping through the cracks, when they could be making a positive impact on the world.
How can we tackle the valley of death?
If companies could invest with lower risks, then innovators with new technologies could develop and bring them to market quicker.
Bringing together industrial partners could push more proposed technologies to the feasibility study stage sooner. This would reduce the investment risks, by spreading them across the partners, and increase the potential for developing innovations faster, saving time and money.
The idea is to bring together clusters, made up of several manufacturing companies, to collaborate and stimulate innovation. An ideal consortium would consist of regional industrial clusters, with the mission to increase the application of CleanTech innovations in industrial environments and to help regions develop into market leadership in specialisms. These clusters would normally work apart but will agree to share knowledge, resources and expertise, contributing to a strong regional network. This cross-border collaboration would provide added value for the partners and consortium members, as they collaborate to achieve their common goal.
It would further reduce investment risk by using a market-driven approach, in which knowledge and expertise are made visible and assessed at a cross-border level. Business developers, with an in-depth knowledge of the sector, would support businesses by finding the necessary partners to develop a successful business case.
How can we improve investment readiness?
The objective is to accelerate the realisation of large-scale, experimental implementation of innovative CleanTech solutions in the manufacturing industry. This is an essential step in the transition to a low-carbon, circular economy within the sector.
An efficient approach would be to use Front End Engineering Design (FEED) Feasibility Studies, which ensure that all operational challenges and financial risks are clear, and the right expertise is on board, as the final step in making a capital investment.
The scope of these studies would be specifically focused on CleanTech solutions with significantly reduced energy or raw material consumption and with high commercial potential. In other words, technology for a better world. This collaboration of carefully selected external stakeholders could attract the funding that enables innovations to undergo feasibility studies.
This would allow for more science and technology to reach the feasibility study stage, so that more innovative technologies can arrive to the market, better fulfilling its demand. These studies provide greater relevance, and allow us to attain value from science & technology more efficiently.