Online from: 2009
Subject Area: Enterprise and Innovation
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|Title:||Innovation for growth in mature industries: Solvay's influenza business|
|Author(s):||Jeroen Crijns, (Booz & Company, Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Bram Palache, (Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Weesp, The Netherlands), Wim Vanhaverbeke, (Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)|
|Citation:||Jeroen Crijns, Bram Palache, Wim Vanhaverbeke, (2009) "Innovation for growth in mature industries: Solvay's influenza business", Journal of Knowledge-based Innovation in China, Vol. 1 Iss: 2, pp.117 - 142|
|Keywords:||Belgium, Business development, Innovation, Phamaceuticals industry, Research and development|
|Article type:||Research paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/17561410910949382 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
Purpose – Major technological innovations are usually associated with central R&D facilities in large companies and leading edge technologies that are key to unlocking business opportunities in promising, embryonic markets. The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyze several factors that determine the success of a major process innovation in a mature but changing industry. The paper furthermore shows that the periphery of a company can be as innovative as headquarters and central R&D-labs.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based upon an in depth case study of the “Business Group Influenza” (BGI) at Solvay, a multinational company in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry based in Brussels. BGI turned a mature business into a growth engine for the company through the development of a cell culture technology. Next, we identified 20 success factors of innovations based on extensive literature research. These factors can be placed in four main categories; strategic factors, market environment factors, development process factors, and organizational factors. In this paper, we apply these key drivers to the renewal of Solvay's influenza vaccine business.
Findings – It is found that a systematic analysis of the case using the 20 key drivers allows us to evaluate the management of this major innovation process. In this way, one can easily spot the drivers that need more attention or require another management approach. We also find that the management of attention of the top-management is crucial in long-term innovation projects.
Originality/value – The contribution of this study is twofold. On the one hand, the rejuvenation of Solvay's influenza vaccine business shows that changing markets conditions in combination with a breakthrough process technology can turn a cash cow into a growth business. On the other hand, the systematic analysis of key innovation drivers allows one to identify the strength and weaknesses in the management of a long-term, breakthrough process innovation.
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