We often talk about The Collider being a highly innovative tech-transfer program but the time has come to take a step back and reflect on what do we exactly mean by innovation and technological disruption. Which is the difference between startups innovation and the usual corporate R&D innovation? What do we understand for technological disruption? Keep reading to learn more.

A startup’s advantage towards change is undeniable. Startups are “lean”, small, flexible, and overall, willing to take risks because they have literally nothing to lose. That already sets them in a good position for disruptive innovation and, therefore, gets them closer to a real game-changing mentality. However, to understand the startups’ tendency to disruptive innovation and how it flips completely the state-of-the-art of technology, we need to focus first on the other kind of R&D, sustaining innovation, considerably more conservative and corporate oriented.

Big corporations have established clients, growing profits and gigantic structures. They have gross amounts of capital to invest in product development to make it more resistant, more efficient, quicker, cheaper, prettier. All of this makes their products much better but still “more of the same”. Same customers, same business model. For a real disruption, we need to go all the way down, to something which is genuinely new. In few words, strip it all til the bare core value and design a new dress.

Renown examples of disruption are PCs, hard-drives, music streaming or the Wikipedia. But what is the common ground for all of them? First, the core value remains intact, be it enjoying a song, writing a message or looking for specific information. Always stays the same. Instead, the difference is summed in three aspects. To being with, technology. Disruptive innovation is almost always a result of a technological advance. Second, the measure of performance changes: you no longer count pieces of vinyl sold but songs listened to or licensed. And as a result of the above, the whole business model is redesigned.

In summary, disruptive innovation has more to do with the deployment of the product in the market than the technology per se. Of course, it requires a bit of an astral alignment to hit the sweet spot between demand, science development, business model and cultural context but, as Collider’s honour guest Professor Davila from IESE Business School advised our participants, it all comes down to seeing change before anyone else does.