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Formulating ideas and composing production plans are necessary steps in the innovation process. However, they don’t always result in success. In their efforts to produce and then distribute their invention to a broad market, inventors often stumble across frustrating and potentially crippling obstacles.

The innovation model in Canada is based on profitability, and locating funding is arguably the most important and most difficult step in the innovation process. Building a prototype, paying developers and inventors, purchasing advertising, conducting market research—all of these activities require money and resources. Securing external funding can be difficult, as innovation is often associated with financial risk and requires a degree of foresight. Unless supported by the provincial or federal government, there must be consumer demand and industry interest for an innovation to be successful. Venture capitalists and financiers are sources of private investment, but the government also provides financial incentives. In Alberta, there are numerous resources to help innovators find sources of funding to advance their projects including the grant councils that support research and innovation.

Technically trained staffThe management of funding is also a challenge. Understanding how to allot money to specific tasks during development requires knowledge and skill. Project management skills are critical for ensuring that a project moves forward on time and on budget. To assist in this phase, innovators can contact a number of different independent sources for assistance with their research and development work. Innovation Canada provides links to various government and private organizations.

If the obstacle of funding is overcome, innovators must also face challenges within their organizational culture. Employees and management must be convinced of the benefits of an innovation and committed to its success if it is to succeed. A lack of communication, instability, fear of change, an absence of information and/or training can cause resistance. Work environments that are rigid, and not open to new ideas can cause new ideas to stagnate.

An organization or entrepreneur must also have an understanding of the relevant technologies needed to construct and implement their invention. For instance, if the owner of a chain of ice cream stores decides to develop a piece of software to control inventory, they must ensure that their organization has the hardware and manpower available to introduce this new technology. A company must be willing to commit the resources to either find qualified employees or develop the skills of their existing staff.

A sluggish economy can also be a barrier to innovation. If industries experience losses in existing areas, they may be resistant to investing in new areas. Likewise, disputes over patent rights and licensing can prevent inventions from ever reaching the market, or creating such a delay the innovative appeal is reduced.

Not all inventors can be entrepreneurs, and not all organizations will be successful at introducing innovations. However, by doing their homework and researching existing innovations, markets, investors and technologies, inventors can streamline the process and increase their chances for success.

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