12 Types of Innovation You Should Know in 2021

What are the different types of innovation?

With so many types of innovation and even more definitions, it can be confusing to discuss innovation in your organization. It

seems like new innovation types arrive to the scene all of the time, leaving people who’ve been in the field for a long time scratching their heads as they reach for Google to quickly get up to speed. Whether you’re new to innovation or have years under your belt, this simple guide that explains the different types might help.

  1. Open Innovation: Open innovation refers to the idea that, in a world of mass-distributed knowledge, firms can and should partner with others to advance their goals. It is innovation by sharing both the risks and rewards of new research. The paradigm is that companies cannot afford to rely strictly on their own internal methods of innovation, but can buy or license processes or inventions from other companies. This helps to further their goals while also providing the opportunity to license or use joint ventures to share their under-utilized technology or processes with other companies.
  2. Closed Innovation: Before being “open” as in open innovation, research is conducted internally within a company to privately create and manage inventions and new advancements before sharing them with the world. The idea behind closed innovation is that successful innovation requires protection, control and ownership of intellectual property while still under development. This is usually through the use of special product development teams within a company.
  3. Social Innovation: Social innovation refers to both the new strategies, concepts and ideas innovated to meet the social needs of society (including, but not limited to, working conditions, education, health, and community development) as well as the social processes of innovation, including open innovation techniques. It can also refer to innovations that have a social purpose, such as distance learning and online volunteering.
  4. Process Innovation: Process innovation is the development and application of a new or significantly improved technology, production method, or method of delivery. This includes significant changes in technique, equipment, or software that helps an organization remain competitive in the marketplace.
  5. Product Innovation: Product innovation refers to the creation of a new or significantly improved good or service. It includes the development of new products, as well as changes in the design of established products. It can also refer to the use of new materials or components in the manufacture of current products, or the improvement of an existing product’s overall performance using new technology or materials.
  6. Radical Innovation: Radical innovation refers to research and development aimed at creating new products, technology, or techniques. The process is called “radical innovation” because the invention of new products, methods, or technologies can “radically” disrupt or change the structure of the marketplace.
  7. Incremental Innovation: Incremental innovation is research and development with the purpose of implementing a series of smaller changes over time. Often times, this helps a company stay competitive or increase their position in the market. It’s the most common form of innovation. Products or techniques can be upgraded by improving performance, upgrading materials, or lowering manufacturing costs.
  8. Business Innovation: Business innovation refers to the development and refinement of an organization’s process for generating new ideas, workflow procedures, methodologies, services, and products. The goal is to create practices that accomplish core business initiatives.
  9. Technical Innovation: Technical innovation uses technology in new ways to enhance business workflows and methodologies as well as improve efficiency in an organization. Some examples include automating business processes, developing new technologies for the marketplace, or implementing technological practices to increase worker efficiency and decrease costs.
  10. Corporate Innovation: Corporate innovation, sometimes known as organizational innovation, refers to how the employees of a company, the public or another defined group, organize research and development together. Innovation most often occurs from the collaboration and combined efforts of a group, not an individual working alone.
  11. Marketing Innovation: Marketing innovation refers to research, development and implementation of new practices and technology that increases the effectiveness and efficiency of a company’s marketing strategy. This type of innovation can provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace by increasing brand awareness and market share.
  12. Value Innovation: Value innovation refers to the process by which a company develops and introduces new technologies or product improvements that are designed to lower costs as well as differentiate the product in the marketplace. Improvements made through value innovation to create both an improved product or service and, at the same time, result in cost savings through the elimination of unnecessary steps in the production cycle.

Successful innovation requires thinking on a grand scale and imagining a full range of possibilities. It involves envisioning a future that doesn’t exist yet. Regardless of the type of innovation, you’re involved in, you’ll need a tool to help you get organized and rapidly implement ideas.

Request a demo today!

This article was originally published on the IdeaScale blog here.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


IdeaScale is the leading innovation management software platform for the enterprise, government, and education. Gather ideas, implement them. www.ideascale.com