TenCate puts its knowledge and technologies to good use within business development and innovation programmes and in consortia for open and closed innovation. Innovation results in new products, functionalities and applications – often involving advanced materials. A number of kinds of research and production can be distinguished within (technological) innovation.
Two of the cornerstones of the TenCate business model are product differentiation and innovation. Product differentiation, product development and innovation fall under the product portfolio management. Here innovation is business as usual. Product differentiation and innovation take place by means of closed innovation – so within TenCate.
Open innovation concerns the other three cornerstones. Technological innovation relates to both sustaining and disruptive technologies. An example of sustaining technology aimed at new product-market-technology combinations is the powder coating technology of TenCate Advanced Composites – an in-house discovery. An example of disruptive technology is nanoscale inkjet technology, and this Xennia technology is currently undergoing further development within TenCate in Nijverdal.
Repeatable sales refer to a self-developed product that requires no subsequent adaptation or improvement. Through technological innovation you create new functionalities that can result in new applications (specification innovation) for the customer. Here an example is the new synthetic turf system based on the 3D synthetic grass clumps technology, which demonstrates the difference between a system of separate components and an integrated system. The yarn simultaneously forms the backing and infill. Since a synthetic grass field no longer has to be tufted, the value chain becomes shorter and there is a reduction in process costs. This results in a cheaper and more professional system. Process innovation leads to new and more efficient production techniques, while product differentiation combined with cost leadership creates a product champion.
There are four drivers stimulating innovation: low costs, the right definition of the end market (so no confused market orientation with a range of specifications, such as shapes and colours), having the best technology and having the best products.
When it comes to technological innovation, we can distinguish several forms of research and innovation. These are elements of the different components of the innovation process.
The four stages, which are shown in the accompanying diagram, are:
- proof of principle (‘is this idea feasible?’)
- proof of concept (‘can the proposed solution be used in practice?’)
- proof of production (‘can the product be manufactured in series?’) and
- full-scale production (‘full continuous production’).