How important is the innovator for the commercial success of innovative products in SMEs?
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Research on innovators and the role which they play in product innovation offers useful insights into the significance of key ‘players’ in the innovation process for commercial outcomes. The paper reports on research which explores the role of innovators who have received a British government award (the SMART award) for innovation in small firms. The nature of this role was explored by examining innovator competences, motives, risk taking behaviours and the significance of the innovator’s role for commercial success. The interview results support the argument that the innovator’s role in the small firm is important for the commercial success of innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Approximately 50% described the innovator’s role as very important for the commercial success of the innovation. Approximately 50% thought that the innovator’s role was important only at the initial stages of the innovation process, because either they lack the marketing skills to take the project forward or their competences are irrelevant beyond the technical development stages. As one participant pointed out, “once the concept innovator is less important and the project needs lots of worker bees”.
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