There have been a number of studies of SME innovation suggesting that such firms see innovation differently from larger firms and governments. The overarching research question for the proposed study is: what are the sources of innovation for SMEs in the food products manufacturing industry? It is intended this study will complement those associated with automotive component and other similar manufacturers. Five research objectives have been formulated to address the key dimensions of this research question:
- To investigate the level and nature of innovation activity, its associated discourse and resulting innovation performance within SMEs.
- To identify and map knowledge inflows and outflows associated with innovation activity within SMEs.
- To investigate the capacity of SMEs to access, evaluate, assimilate and exploit new knowledge in order to facilitate and effect innovation activity and performance.
- To explore the influence of local conditions (the business and policy context) on innovation activity and performance within SMEs.
- To identify ‘open innovation accelerators’ which facilitate and enhance knowledge flows and innovation activity within SMEs.
A comparative study is being conducted by researchers from Deakin University In Victoria Australia and Amrita University in South Western India. Deakin University has recently launched a significant food production research group. This website facilitates interaction between the researchers and the companies involved as the program develops. Potential benefits from participation are noted in this site. Whilst the research is being conducted consistent with the ethics requirements of each University, anything presented here should not be interpreted as representing the views of either Deakin or Amrita Universities. Information relating to the project and findings will be shared as they emerge from parallel reviews of academic literature, participant interviews and case study analysis. The website should be viewed as an ongoing work-in-progress.
Some recurring themes identified to date are:
- making connections in a variety of ways to help stimulate and deploy innovations with limited resources
- combining existing ‘ingredients’ in new ways leads to novel product/process and business model ‘recipes’ supporting a variety of regional and ethnic tastes and delivering health, social or ecological benefits. The way this is done with minimal resources is being explored using Western notions of bricolage and Indian notions of frugal innovation.
- We also observe that the scope for innovation in a particular firm is related to its current business model(s) that have evolved as a means of economic survival.