Top 5 IdeaScale Alternatives You Must Know in 2021

TOP IDEASCALE ALTERNATIVES

With more than 25,000 customers and 4.5 million users, IdeaScale has been the pioneer in innovation management. The numbers are a testament that it has been a market favorite for a good reason. However, it’s not one-size-fits-all because of various reasons. 

Are you looking for IdeaScale alternatives? You have reached the right place. We hope you’ll find one that suits you. What’s your reason for exploring other options?

  • Better customization for your business or enterprise
  • More features and flexibility
  • Affordable pricing
  • Better UI and UX 
  • Campaign focus
  • Strong workflow process
  • Ease of use
  • End-to-end tracking from ideas to patents

Listed below are some top IdeaScale alternatives we explored:

  1. Ideanote
  2. BrightIdea
  3. Planbox
  4. Idea Drop
  5. Viima

As a bonus we are going to introduce a new entrant, an innovation management tool designed specifically for patent mining.

Two cents about IdeaScale

(Source: IdeaScale)

IdeaScale licenses cloud-based innovation management software to its clients. Some of the key features of the software include

  • Crowdsourcing of ideas
  • Idea ranking through a voting system
  • Workflow management
  • Collaboration
  • Feedback management
  • Trend tracking 

    etc…..

Pricing is a significant factor in choosing the right innovation management tool for your company. Here’s what IdeaScale’s pricing and plans look like:

Pricing

IdeaScale offers subscriptions on a 2-year basis. They have four available plans with features that differ from one to the next. Plans range from $12,999 to $64,999. IdeaScale also charges a one-time setup fee for first-time users.

IdeaScale’s Standout Feature | Crowdsourcing

IdeaScale works on a crowdsourcing model by grouping problem-solvers under communities. Communities may be public or private, thereby helping with restricted access. Here is how the users in a community participate:

  • Launch campaigns to solve problems
  • Submit ideas to solve the problems
  • Vote and comment on ideas

IdeaScale also has a community named IdeaScale Crowd. It’s open for everyone, where anyone can interact with any idea. You can sponsor a campaign here to find a solution to your problems. More than 30,000 problem solvers worldwide are part of this community. 

Pros:

  • Suitable for large enterprises with employees located across different geographies
  • Vote based ranking to choose best ideas for implementation

Cons:

  • High pricing
  • Mobile app only for iOS

IdeaScale Alternative 1: Ideanote 

Source: IdeaNote

Overview

Ideanote is a cloud-based innovation management platform. It provides for the idea and innovation management in 4 different phases – 

  • Capture: This allows you to collect ideas from your employees and your customers. Sub-features include profiles, briefings, and templates
  • Collaborate: Share ideas with specific people or teams because two brains are better than one! Sub-features include phases, ideaBot, custom rating, and segmentation
  • Scale: Once you have a solid idea, the next stage allows you to invite more people to join your team as guest members. You can create a workspace, make teams, assign team managers, etc.
  • Measure: This stage gives you an accessible and actionable interface for your ideas, allowing you to become a smarter innovator. Sub-tools include outcomes, customized outcomes, data export, and insights. 

Source: IdeaNote

Ideanote has done an excellent job of incorporating all the features one would expect in an innovation management software. They do have a mobile-friendly version but not an app yet. 

While Ideanote does allow team member additions, we’d like to see it be a little easier to do so. 

What makes IdeaNote Different from IdeaScale?

AttributesIdeaScaleIdeaNote
SuitabilityMedium to large enterprisesSmall Businesses
Free trialYesYes
Initial setup costYesNo
Ease of UseDecentQuite easy
Training to use the toolNoYes
SupportYesRound the clock for new users, face-to-face assistance
Pricing PlansEngage – $12,999 for 2 years ~ $540 per month
Evolve – $21,999
Advance – $34,999
Transform – $64,999
Starter – $249 per monthBusiness – $649 per monthEnterprise – $2899 per month
Minimum Commitment2 years1 Month

Ideanote’s Standout Feature | MVP Test

Ideanote’s standout feature is the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) test. IdeaNote facilitates semi-surveys and feedback collection within a team or a small customer group. It’s essential to choose the right ideas to pursue in this fast-paced innovation atmosphere. Well-thought selection ensures effective resource utilization. 

Pros:

  • Intuitive interface and ease of use
  • Affordable pricing
  • Great customer support

Cons:

  • No provision to rank ideas
  • No mobile application 

IdeaScale Alternative 2: Brightidea 


Source: BrightIdea

BrightIdea’s IdeaBox is an employee-only innovation management software suitable for large enterprises. IdeaBox offers a collection of apps (shown below). Each app serves a specific function for various innovation stages. For instance:

  • OptimizeIf you want to improve a particular business area, you can invite ideas from employees around the same
  • Name – This one comes in handy if you are looking for names for a new product
  • HackBringing people together for a limited time to solve particular challenges. In concept, this is quite similar to online hackathons
  • Recognize It’s a great way to give shoutouts and increase employee engagement 

Source: Twitter

What Makes BrightIdea Different from IdeaScale?

Both of these tools are very competitive in terms of features and support. However, BightIdea offers a mobile application for iOS and Android users. IdeaScale doesn’t have a mobile application.

Source: iPhone AppStore

AttributesIdeaScaleBrightIdea
CustomizationCustomization of in-site features to change site behaviorCustom CSS to change the look and feel to match your brand
User InterfaceIntuitive and easy to use. Plus points for an infographic generatorSocial media-esque UI. Crowded because of too many apps, hence confusing
Idea pipelineFour stage pipeline – Idea Collection, Refinement, Review, ImplementationDrag and drop tools allow building pipelines to evaluate ideas
Mobile applicationYes – iOS onlyYes
PricingRanges from $12,999 to $64,999 for two yearsNot publicly disclosed

Brightidea’s Standout Feature | Large Scale Crowdsourcing & Hackathons

Large-scale crowdsourcing and hackathons make BrightIdea a standout. Have a problem and want more than the people in your employ to help you solve it? Sure! Use BrightIdea to launch a hackathon. 

What a great way to demonstrate to your workforce that you’re an innovation-driven enterprise! 

Pros:

  • Made for large enterprises, especially those with a global presence
  • Contests and hackathons open up a plethora of ideas
  • Cloud access, iOS, and Android apps
  • Increased employee engagement with mobile app

Cons:

  • Not particularly suited for small businesses and enterprises
  • Allows only one person in charge, which makes it not so conducive to enterprises that have multiple decision-makers

IdeaScale Alternative 3: Planbox 

Source: Planbox

Planbox is an AI-powered, exhaustive, and modular innovation management software. It has four modules:

  • Discovery central: Explore and discover the right problems and prioritize them to find innovative solutions
  • Innovation central: Manage the control innovation lifecycle – from challenge launch to building a business model canvas
  • Agile central: Manage agile work for projects with the ability to track deliverables, plan experiments, and develop a proof of concept
  • Portfolio central: Empower your teams by pitching out of the box reports of commercialized strategies

What Makes Planbox Different From IdeaScale?

Planbox’s Innovation Central module is akin to IdeaScale. While both take you through the innovation cycle, Planbox ranks slightly higher on the value addition it provides through external ideation and crowdsourcing. 

AttributesIdeaScalePlanbox
Visualization Built-in reporting as well as the ability to integrate web analytics. Data exports available tooEasily configurable reporting engine for creating effective visualization
Free trialYesNo
ScalabilityIt can handle large volumes of members as well as ideasResources available to scale with the growth of enterprise 
Ease of UseDecentGood. Allows for internal management of site
IntegrationAllows integration with Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, Intercom, Google Analytics, Social ShareAllows for integration with Zapier, Slack, Sharepoint, Teams, G Suite, Microsoft 365 and more
Idea EvaluationVoting system to rank ideasIdea Manager Evaluation and Task-driven Evaluation
PricingRanges from $12,999 to $64,999 for a 2-years period$6/user/month for up to 250 users

Planbox Pricing

Like BrightIdea, Planbox does not disclose its pricing publicly. You can get in touch with their support team to get a quote. 

Planbox’s Standout Feature | The AI Algorithm

Planbox pioneered AI-powered innovation management. The ethos of Planbox using AI is that it helps simplify innovation tasks and the innovation process. It makes them more efficient and provides better analysis. The result of this combination is more accurate predictions with less risky decision-making. 

Organizational resistance can prove to be a significant hurdle in innovation management. An AI algorithm helps overcome that hurdle by using improved processes to choose and implement more potent ideas. 

The risk of loss is another deterrent. With AI, the system can allow management to keep a record of innovation. The system can track and measure all factors that play a part in an idea’s success or failure. Analyzing and archiving these efforts’ results helps cultivate a culture of continuous improvement that drives long-term success.

Source: Planbox

Planbox’s AI-powered algorithms help search for related data from various trusted sources on your recording of an idea in the software. Those sources include Twitter, designated RSS feeds, USPTO and other patent databases, support tickets and emails (of your customers), and any other data source that you have access to.

Pros:

  • The modular structure covers the entire innovation cycle
  • The AI-powered algorithm provides for data gathering pertinent to each invention keyed in
  • PlanBox mobile application available for both iOS and Android
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • The reporting/analysis could be better
  • The administrator does not have complete control over the tool. There are times queries need to be routed through the help desk

IdeaScale Alternative 4: Idea Drop 

Source: Idea Drop

Idea Drop is suitable for large enterprises and businesses. With easy connectivity and the option to submit ideas anonymously, it helps collaborate on a large scale towards strategic business goals. 

It has a clear and well-organized dashboard and ranks quite highly on the ease of use scale. 

What Makes IdeaDrop Different from IdeaScale?

It is easier to customize as compared to IdeaScale. It provides a whole list of innovative features, some of which are currently lacking in IdeaScale. Features such as engagement monitoring, evaluation workflow, feedback management, gamification, trend tracking.

IdeaDrop is accessible on the web as well as on mobile with their iOS and Android applications.

Source: iPhone AppStore

IdeaDrop gives you complete access to the platform whether you are a user or an administrator. As a user, you can submit your ideas and engage with others. As an administrator, you have access to the analytics to give you a deeper understanding of each idea. It also sends real-time notifications and reports to keep all the stakeholders updated.

AttributesIdeaScalePlanbox
Collaboration FeaturesBesides community discussion, it goes a level beyond for collaboration by routing ideas to subject matter experts for thorough vetting@mentions, #hashtags, comments, link sharing, and real-time notifications
Duplication CheckNoYes, it flags similar ideas and suggests collaboration
Ease of UseDecentGood. Allows for internal management of the site
IntegrationAllows integration with Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, Intercom, Google Analytics, Social ShareAllows for integration with Yammer, SSO, Microsoft Teams, and Slack
CustomizationAllows for styling customization for branding purposeHighly customizable – workflow, idea evaluation metrics, and branding
PricingRanges from $12,999 to $64,999 for a 2-years periodDetails not publicly available

IdeaDrop’s Standout Feature | Intelligent Algorithms

IdeaDrop’s USP is its intelligent algorithms. There are 3 main algorithms that make it seamless. Those are:

  • Intelligent Duplicate Check: With intelligent pattern recognition technology, IdeaDrop automatically checks for duplication of ideas. If a similar idea is found, the tool recommends the user to collaborate over the existing idea instead.
  • Smart Search: Idea Drop’s intelligent search makes it very easy to search your Idea Drop database, including the content of supporting documents.


  • Idea Score: Once an idea is submitted to your organization’s IdeaDrop, an automated algorithm assigns it a score. It’s a real-time score depending on social interactions with the concept. The higher the social vote on the idea, the higher the score. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to use interface and UI
  • Intelligent algorithms optimize the ideation process
  • Real-time notifications increase engagement
  • Real-time analysis allows for better collaboration

Cons:

  • Notifications come through only if you follow a person
  • No auto-generation of monthly reports on innovations 
  • Additional consultation services are chargeable

IdeaScale Alternative 5: Viima 

Source: Viima

Viima is suitable for middle to large-scale organizations. It is an ideation and discussion platform, with four distinct phases within the software – 

  • Collect: This stage is for collecting ideas. The software then categorizes ideas into predefined buckets. There is also the option to create boards and give access to a selected group. 
  • Develop: You can create a process based on your business needs and methods. Features available include mentioning specific people and adding attachments to ideas. 
  • Prioritize: You can choose metrics to rams and prioritize ideas. These evaluations generate automated scoring. Visualization tools help in making informed decisions. 
  • Analyze: Analytics in the software show you how you can improve your process in real time. Fix bottlenecks and spot trends in data. 

Viima allows you to gather ideas from employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

What Makes Viima Different From IdeaScale?

AttributesIdeaScaleViima
SuitabilityLarge enterprisesScalable from small to large
Localized ServicesNo. Only available as a cloud serviceYes. Available as part of the Enterprise plan
Ease of Use and UIDecentColorful and engaging interface that is easy to use
IntegrationAllows integration with Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, Intercom, Google Analytics, Social ShareBuilt-in Single Sign On for Office365, Google for Business, and Microsoft AD
CustomizationCustom community styling to match the branding aspectsCustomizable – possible to create customized workflow
Mobile Application Yes, for iOS onlyYes, for iOS and Android
PricingRanges from $12,999 to $64,999 for a 2-years periodBasic Plan – Free – for up to 50 users
Premium – $5/user/month – for small organizationsUnlimited – $1799/month – for medium to large scale enterprises

Viima Pricing

Viima’s pricing follows per-user-based model. They offer a free plan too. Their basic plan offers a single board to discuss ideas with the bare minimum features. The per-user plan starts at $5 per month per user. It’s perfect for small organizations. 

For a large organization, it may make sense to purchase the unlimited plan at $1799 per month for unlimited users and access to all its features.

Viima’s Standout Feature | IP Whitelisting

Understanding the need for access to the software from anywhere, Viima has enhanced security with IP Whitelisting. This way, whether employees are in the office or outside, the company can create a list of IP addresses in a whitelist for secure access and privacy of the company’s potential Intellectual Property.

Pros:

  • Simple to set up and use, good UI
  • Great customer support
  • Affordable pricing 
  • Mobile app available on both iOS and Android
  • IP whitelisting feature for security

Cons:

  • Not very effective for decision making 
  • Not the best customization options 

Here is a quick summary of the tools we’ve discussed with their standout features:

Innovation Management ToolFree Trial/DemoMobile AppPricingStandout Feature
IdeaScaleYesNo$12,999 for 2 yearsCommunities
IdeanoteYesNo$249 per monthMVP test
BrightIdeaYesYesNot disclosedCrowdsourcing and Hackathons
PlanboxYesYesNot disclosedAI algorithm for data population
Idea DropYesYesNot disclosedIntelligent algorithm for duplicate check, smart search
ViimaYesYes$5 per user per monthIP Whitelisting

Triangle IP – An Idea Management Tool for Patent Mining

TIP by Triangle IP is an intuitive drag and drop tool to help you track the journey of ideas to patents. TIP’s inventor-friendly idea form helps you capture more innovation. Its collaboration feature brings together people from business, R&D as well as IP departments. This enables thorough vetting of ideas ensuring only the most promising ideas/inventions get patented. The TIP tool is constantly evolving. The team is looking to add more features to help users make better patenting decisions. Currently supported workflow in the software has four stages namely:

  1. Idea Capture: A dashboard where anyone from the enterprise can submit innovative ideas. TIP tools offer a very simple idea form for the same.
  1. Internal Vetting: Submitted ideas can be vetted internally to check for viability by different stakeholders. After thorough vetting the most potential ideas are pursued for patent protection.
  1. Patent Drafting: Ideas that are vetted and considered viable are moved to the patent drafting stage. The patent attorneys take it from here.
  1. Patent Filing: Once the application is filed with the patent office, the serial number and filing date are recorded here with a copy of the patent application.
  1. Portfolio Management: Coming soon! A stage that shall help you keep a track of your patents and patent applications. The analytics in this stage shall help you make better patenting decisions.

Triangle IP – A Quick Video Tour

What’s Unique about Triangle IP?

The TIP tool follows a minimalistic design approach. It is built for ease of use whether used by one person or an enterprise. 

Triangle IP specifically caters to 4 personas:

  • Individual inventors
  • Startups
  • Enterprises
  • Patent practitioners

TIP has a neat UI with simplified login through magic link. Its role based access feature allows for more control. Within the software you can score ideas, merge ideas as well as lock ideas post approval. There may soon be an automatic patentability score option available for evaluating ideas. TIP helps you manage the IP workflow from idea collection to portfolio management. TIP tool is free for all until its most comprehensive version is out

Here are a few key functionalities you would love about the tool. 

TriangleIP’s Standout Feature | Patent Democratization 

The TIP Tool is transparent and allows collaboration and in essence, democratizes the patent process. Generally, in most corporate structures, the handling of innovations and patents is limited to the top brass. The TIP Tool aims at making this a process that involves the whole enterprise. With patent attorneys being looped into the tool through the Patent Drafting, and Patent Filing stages, the attorney can be directly in touch with the innovator.  Hence, the possibility of filing more comprehensive patent applications is enhanced. 

Pros:

  • Intuitive and easy invention disclosure form 
  • Ease of collaboration results in thorough vetting of the ideas
  • Scoring of ideas helps in prioritizing ideas to be pursued for patenting
  • Ease of use with the drag and drop feature

Cons:

  • Patent analytics missing
  • No mobile app

The Final Word

We’ve given you a round up of the IdeaScale alternatives with all of their pros and cons. 

But the final word must only be yours. What suits your business is a personal choice – one that hopefully this post will help you make. While we have given you facts and figures, the best way to figure out what works for you is to give all these options a fair chance. 

Go ahead, try the free versions of these tools before you choose one to commit to. And while you’re at it, give the TriangleIP tool a try for an end-to-end customized solution to your innovation management needs. 

Do consider these 5 factors while you are evaluating any innovation management tools!

TIP Tool is free for your whole team

No credit card required. No setup fees. No need to download.

22 Tips to Master the 5 Skills of Disruptive Innovators

Become a disruptive innovator by mastering these 5 discovery skills

History is evident that disruptive innovators have the ability to change the world for better; be it Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk…

In his farewell letter to his employees, Jeff Bezos talked about innovation being the root of Amazon’s success. “We’ve done crazy things together, he said, and then made them normal.” Steve Jobs is always remembered for his words about innovators and trailblazers about whom he says “…while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Most people say – ‘Disruptive Innovators’ are wired differently. However, I feel what we are calling as wired differently is just a capability to see things from multiple perspectives. 

Clayton has called these perspectives “Discovery Skills”, in the book “The Innovator’s DNA”. Clayton claims if you can acquire these skills, you can also think like disruptive innovators. This implies if we can teach them to our teams, we can make our organization more innovative. Let’s see what are these ‘Discovery Skills’ and how we can teach them to our people:

  • Associating
  • Questioning
  • Observing
  • Networking
  • Experimenting

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #1 Associating

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #1 Associating

Being at the cusp of different disciplines and finding ways to associate them to create ideas that are out of the box is the first discovery skill. How do you train your mind to do this?

Tip #1 – Force New Associations

Combine things that you wouldn’t usually put together. Look around your home and life and find the two most used gadgets but unlikely to be used as a single one and force your mind to make the best possible association. We are picking a refrigerator and Google Home.

Refrigerator + Google Home

Let’s of think some potential associations:

  • How about talking to the refrigerator just the way we talk to Google Home and asking – “How many cartons of milk are left in the fridge?” instead of opening the fridge and checking ourselves.
  • Or how about asking the fridge to ring a bell when your home made ice-cream is set and ready to dig into? Just the way we ask Google Home to set timers.

As a systematic approach, create a table as follows. Pick a problem(s) you are facing, identify a random item or idea. For inspiration, look around you.  Now try to come up with an association of these two. Here are some examples for your reference:

Unsolved problemUnrelated random item or ideaPotential Association
How do I get more users to download my new mobile adventure treasure hunt gaming app?Running shoesCreate a feature where the game uses the phone camera as a projector and allows the user to treat it as a VR experience. 
How do I prepare my workforce for a post covid comeback?House plantCreate a temperature controlled outdoor, socially distanced workspace where masks need not be worn. Create an atmosphere that feels safe and comfortable and makes your workforce want to be present. 
……Your turn…….………………

Tip #2 – Take on a Different Persona

Take on a different persona. Even by physically altering the way you look and dress, you can force yourself to think like someone you are not. For example, if you’re looking for design innovations with a twist of utility, dress in a black t-shirt and blue jeans for a week so you can feel like Steve Jobs. Let his association of learning calligraphy to subsequently create fonts on his computers inspire you.

Tip #3 – Generate Metaphors and Analogies

Find ways to look at things from an uncommon perspective. Use metaphors and analogies to think of products that you could revolutionize. Ever thought of an AI powered smart ceiling lamp that can watch over patients? The device being smart enough to know if the patients are sitting, standing or laying down and to call out for help if they fall down. 

List of Products (“What if” Metaphor)Possible New Features/Benefits
What if” we aren’t controlling video game characters using a remote, but with our brains? What if they just so happen to be going exactly where we want, when we wanted?Mind control gaming with increased efficiency and lesser need of hand eye coordination
Device-less, play from anywhere, unrestricted game time 
What if” 
………Your turn……..………

Tip #4 – Build Your Own Curiosity Box

Collect and put together things from your travels and explorations, things that may not be useful even. Put them together in a box to trigger your curiosity or even display them where they jump out at you everyday. When faced with a problem, look at them and allow them to let you come up with out-of-the-box solutions. 

Explore-Simulated-Version-of-TIP-Tool

Tip #5 – Use SCAMPER to Generate Breakthrough Ideas

SCAMPER! Substitute. Combine. Adapt. Magnify, Minimize, Modify. Put to other uses. Eliminate. Reverse, Rearrange. An acronym to inspire innovation and generate insight, use the concepts that this acronym stands for to rethink and allow you a fresh perspective to a problem you may be facing. 

SCAMPER ChallengeInvent a new type of Vending Machine  
SubstituteSubstitute salespersons at stores with vending machines – unmanned and cashless stores
CombineSell advertisement space by installing a screen
 
AdaptInstall QR codes/screens for digital payments
Magnify, minimize, modifyModify receiving tray to be soft and padded to minimize breakage of delicate items
Put to other useTurn traditional vending machine into fresh juicer by replacing packaged food and drink with fresh fruit and juicing mechanism
EliminateEliminate the keypad to punch in codes for products. Maybe use a touchscreen for product selection.
Reverse, rearrangeInstead of taking stuff out of a vending machine, humans get inside and use it as plug and play office

You might also like to read this post on “Innovations in Aerogels With SCAMPER”.

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #2 Questioning

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #2 Questioning

Questioning is the art of learning. Questions seek and frame and expose. Answers change over time, with varying degrees of accuracy and subjectivity. But ask the right questions and you will be amazed how the doors to innovation open. 

Tip #6 – Engage in QuestionStorming

When brainstorming finds you caught in a rut, try QuestionStorming. When you sit down together as a team, ask What if, What caused, Why, Why not, What is questions. Write down every question and once listed, prioritize and discuss the most important or intriguing ones to find better solutions.

Tip #7 – Cultivate Question Thinking

When discussing products and/or innovations within your company, convert your statements into questions. By reformulating statements into questions, you will find not only do the problems you are facing become clearer and help members of your team feel responsible for solutions. Teach your team members in the orientation session about the first principle of thinking. You would love reading this one too – “7 ways to Encourage Innovative Thinking at Your Workplace”.

Tip #8 – Track your QnA Ratio

Keep tabs on your Q&A ratio. Studies have shown that disruptive innovators ask more questions than give answers. And more often than not, good questions generate greater value than good answers. 

Tip #9 – Cultivate your own Question Bank

Maintain a record of your questions as your own written question bank. Keep revisiting these questions to identify patterns and categorize the kinds of questions you are asking. When you do, question your own questions to disrupt your thought to lead to better innovation.   

The table below will help you ask the right questions. 

 Describe the TerritoryDisrupt the Territory
Innovator’s DNA SkillsWhat is? Who? What? When? Where? How?What caused it?Why? Why not?What if? How might?
Observing    
Networking    
Experimenting    

Ask more questions when you go through your question bank. Question your questioning patterns, try and understand which questions generate emotional responses, see what kind of questions lead you best into disruptive thinking patterns.   

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #3 Observing

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #3 Observing

Whether it was Einstein with his theory of Gravity or Galileo measuring time with a pendulum; all innovators, thinkers and makers had something in common. They noticed, they observed and they theorized. Observation is the bedrock of innovation. It is where innovation starts. 

Tip #10 – Observe Customers

Observe the people you are making your product for, the existing customers. Observe how these customers experience your product. Look out for what they enjoy most about your product, and look out for what is leaving them dissatisfied about it. Is there a functional connect only or is your product leaving your customer emotionally connected? 

Tip #11 – Observe Companies

Identify a company you like, or one that inspires you. It may be a blue chip company or a trailblazing start-up. Dig into its hows and whys and think of ways you could incorporate its ideas into your business or product. 

Tip #12 – Make Observation a Habit

Set time aside everyday to observe. Make it a task in your daily to do list. Set aside a few minutes each day to observe the world around you, or a part of it that catches your fancy. Note down (this may even be photographs and videos on your phone) your observations and review them every once in a while. 

Tip #13 – Observe With All your Senses

Observe with more than just your mind. Whether you are observing customers, another company or the world around you, observe with all your senses. Make it a habit to see, taste, hear, smell and feel every experience. Make notes about what responses various experiences trigger in you. You never know what explosive idea is hiding under a whiff of something!

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #4 Networking

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #4 Networking

Idea networking is about you stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging with people who have thoughts that may be different from your own. Fresh thoughts, ideas and perspectives are a powerful arsenal to carry in your toolkit. 

Tip #14 – Expand your Network Diversity

If you are the smartest person in a room, you are in the wrong room. So, like Tony Robbins says, surround yourself with people who are successful, who are forward-moving, who are positive, who are focused on producing results, who support you, it will challenge you to be more and do more and share more. If you can surround yourself with people who will never let you settle for less than you can be, you have the greatest gift that anyone can hope for. Expand the diversity of your network. Engage with people of different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, gender, profession, industry, countries. 

Tip #15 – Start a Mealtime Networking Plan

Don’t have the time to expand your network? Start doing so over a meal. Have a meal with someone in your organization or social circle you never would ordinarily. Step outside your comfort zone if you have to to engage with a person you may not always agree with. 

Explore-Simulated-Version-of-TIP-Tool

Tip #16 – Plan and Attend New Events Each Year

Attend conferences and seminars as an opportunity to network and learn alongside. Choose a couple of conferences/seminars to attend in a year – one in a subject that interests you and another that is outside your comfort zone. This is a great way to meet people with different perspectives.

Tip #17 – Foster a Creative Community

Become part of, or better still, initiate a creative community and meet regularly to nurture ideas beyond your workplace. Invite outsiders to these meetings to get fresh ideas. Let the people you invite be a healthy mix of experts and novices so you can draw on both experience and raw enthusiasm. Train with the experts and let the exuberance of newness ignite your passion.

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #5 Experimenting

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #5 Experimenting

Experimentation is fundamental to get insights and new knowledge and in relation to innovation, experimentation is usually seen as a “search for new value”, a journey to innovation.

Tip #18 – Cross Physical and Intellectual Borders

Changing spaces – both physical and intellectual help you break out of routine and fixed mindset. Visit new places – museums, libraries, parks. Join new professional or recreational activities, attend lectures, take an online class or indulge in art. Subscribe to content from different contexts and different geographies. When you open yourself up to alien information, you will see yourself shift from a routine mindset to a hypothesis-testing mindset. 

Tip #19 – Invest Time in Developing a New Skill

Find something you are passionate about beyond your work. Turn it into a skill that you work to develop. It could be painting or photography or ballet or yoga. If you don’t want to go that far, identify another function in your company and explore it deeply.

Tip #20 – Disassemble a Product and Build a Prototype of an Idea

Have something old at home that is gathering dust? Turn it into a weekend repair project. Take it apart, study it and try to reassemble it. Have something at home that you think you could make better? Engage in a product improvement project and turn it into a prototype! Play-doh and Lego are great to create prototypes with your kids and to initiate them into innovation early. 

Tip #21 – Be Regular with Piloting New Ideas

Pick up ideas from the idea books you are maintaining and make a commitment to yourself to carry out a pilot test of one of those every month. If it doesn’t work the first time, experiment on it the next time with a small tweak here and there.

Tip #22 – Go Trend Spotting

Stay up to date with the happenings around you and constantly be on the lookout for emerging trends. Look into the future with the resources you have today and try and think of how you can ride the trend wave.  

Let’s Sum It Up

In sum, remember to keep moving. Remember you don’t have to be born an innovator. You can join the league of disruptive innovators. And while you’re on the innovation treadmill, let Bezos’ words ring loud – “Keep inventing and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.” 

Read Next: “How To Seek Investment Using Patents?

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Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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Innovations in Aerogels – SCAMPER for Idea Generation

Innovation in Aerogels - SCAMPER - Idea Generation

Learn how innovations in aerogels by Blueshift, Graphene, Krosslinker, Kalwall and …. can help you come up with the next generation of technologies.   

Looking for some inspiration to generate ideas in Aerogels? You have reached the right spot! In this post we are not just sharing an actionable idea generation technique; but something far more than that. The technique we are covering is called “SCAMPER” and the bonus that we are giving here are the innovations in aerogels. ‘Aerogel’ – one of the most fascinating materials on earth.

What is SCAMPER?

Bob Eberle proposed the SCAMPER technique in his book – SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development in 1971. You would be surprised to see that it’s not outdated yet and can still help you draw a lot of value.

The word SCAMPER is an acronym for 7 brainstorming methods. With each method, you need to answer specific questions about an existing product or idea to explore something new. Let’s take a look at these 7 methods:

MethodWhat you doWhat questions you ask
SubstituteThe focus of this method is to find alternatives. You substitute a part of the existing idea with something else to create a new thing. Which ingredient can you replace without affecting the solution?

Can you substitute people, time, or place for improving the quality?
CombineYou focus on combining 2 (or more) existing things to result in a better idea.Can you combine a new element into an existing product and improve?

Is it possible to merge 2 or more existing processes to create something new?
Adapt During this method, you stress on adapting a part of or the whole existing product or process in a better way.Can you adapt a new process or technology to the existing product?

Is it possible to adapt a process to improve the speed or results?
Modify (magnify or minify)Try to change the size, dimensions, quantity, or frequency in the existing product, process, or problem.Can you add extra features?

Is there a benefit in increasing or decreasing the frequency?
Put to other useThis process helps you to tinker if you can use your product or process in some other unexpected way?Can you use your product differently?

Is it possible to target another market for the product?
EliminateWhen you use the ‘eliminate’ method, you focus on getting rid of a part or process that may not be beneficial.What can you eliminate from a product or a process?

Is there a way to get rid of the harmful parts?
Reverse (rearrange)In this method, you explore if any rearrangement or reverse technique like upside down or inside out with the product helps get new results?What if you go backward?

Can you reverse a process and get results?

The table above shares a few questions for each technique. Feel free to download the exhaustive questions list for all the 7 techniques.

We are in awe with aerogels and hence chose aerogels to explain SCAMPER. From the first commercialization of aerogel, it has been a topic of fascination among scientists and researchers. And, we are no exception!

If you are an industry veteran from the Aerogel industry, I would recommend you skip to “SCAMPER – The Idea Generation With Innovations in Aerogels” section, as we are going to start with First Principles – explaining from basics.

What Is Aerogel?

Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material. It is the lightest solid on earth; an aerogel block of a car’s size would hardly weigh 1 kg. What makes aerogel so interesting are the properties it exhibits in various conditions.

For instance – aerogels have super high thermal resistance. Look at the picture below – A flower is on a piece of aerogel which is suspended over a flame from a Bunsen burner. The flower remains protected from the flame due to aerogel.

Source – wikipedia

Apparels stuffed with aerogels can keep you warm even under a storm of liquid nitrogen (-321°F / -196°C). That’s how magical it is! The post explores 7 breakthrough innovations in aerogels in the following sections – keep reading!

Who Invented Aerogel? | An interesting Story

The inventor, Samuel Stephens Kistler, made the first aerogel somewhere in 1931. His associate and friend, Charles Learned, had a bet with him to replace the jellies’ liquid without shrinking. Kistler removed the fluid and filled the air using the supercritical drying method. The technique is not as simple as it sounds. Kistler took many years and long research to make the first aerogel.

Why We Picked Aerogel To Explain SCAMPER?

MarketsandMarkets reported last year that the aerogel market would reach a share of $1045M by 2025. During the forecasted period of 2020-2025, it would register a CAGR of 10.4%.

What keeps the demand so high is the applications in the energy, construction, and transportation sectors. The need for thinner, lighter, and economical aerogel would drive the growth. Emerging players are challenging each other for novel ideas and growth, keeping the aerogel’s field vibrant. While nonorganic silica has been the most prominent base material thus far, the carbon in organic material is also quite popular now. Start-ups are exploring eco-friendly routes to produce aerogel, as well.

The end products of aerogel are available in many forms like blankets, monoliths, granules, and powder. Here is a tree structure by IDTechEx to help you understand the base materials and available forms of aerogel.

Different types of Aerogels and the terminology

Source – IDTechEx

Having so much innovations in aerogels going on, how could we not dive in the ocean of aerogels to pull out some pearls for you? TriangleIP believes in democratizing innovation so that we can help more people innovate. So here we are sharing different models that you can use to generate more ideas. 

So, let’s learn SCAMPER with examples of aerogel based products and companies.

SCAMPER – The Idea Generation With Innovations in Aerogels

Of all the companies working with aerogels, we chose 7 promising works, based on their innovation technique that aligns with one of the SCAMPER methods. 

Substitute Like Blueshift

Traditional aerogel is made up of silica, which makes it brittle. Such aerogel can fracture under high pressure. Blueshift substituted the silica with polyimides polymer to create a highly flexible aerogel. Trademarked as AeroZero®, this aerogel makes good tapes and laminates. The strength, insulation, and flexibility make it versatile for various industrial purposes.

Innovations in Aerogel - Blueshift - Substitute
  • Aerospace and defense use AeroZero® due to its high insulation and cryogenic properties. 
  • Electronics and telecom fields have adopted AeroZero® because of its lightweightness. 
  • The semiconductors industry uses AeroZero® as it performs uniformly between temperature -200 °C and 250 °C+.

How incredible, isn’t it?

Imagine substituting one of the core materials to solve the existing problems when you think of an idea generation technique. 

Combine like Graphene Composites

“Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.” – Tom Freston, Co-founder, MTV

Although Graphene Composites (GC) makes composites for aerospace, which are lighter than the carbon-based parts and have higher strength, their armors are worth talking about.

GC combines graphene with aerogel to produce the strongest, lightest, and resilient GC Shields as ballistic armors. These shields disperse the impact of a bullet or stab more effectively than other armor. GC Shieldshave been tested with various rifles, shotguns, and knives.

These mobile shields come in different sizes. They can fit in a school bag or be obtained in a bigger size to protect the full torso. A pack of shields combined to make a wall offers group protection during an attack. GC Shield™ Curtain protects active shooters in large and open spaces.

Innovations in Aerogel - Combine - Graphene Composites

Graphene Composites stands out among companies working with aerogel due to their unique product. Combining two products to offer new benefits is a great way to innovate. What can you combine to create a new product worth interest?

Adapt Like KrossLinker

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Do you know 1 out of 5 vaccines spoils during transit in the supply chain? 

KrossLinker came up with an innovative approach to package bio-pharma products. These pharma products are temperature sensitive. Many vaccines and biologics like blood, human organs, vaccines, and drugs suffer from the lack of the proper packaging. The traditional Styrofoam packaging spoils these biologics due to temperature fluctuation and dust.

Then existing aerogel products couldn’t stand up to the fabrication challenge of cold-chain biopharma. First, the production speed couldn’t stand the demand and affected the vaccine cost for the end user. Dusty aerogel products pose contamination risks to biologics. 

KrossLinker took the challenge and innovated aerogel packaging for biopharma products. They solved the dust issues with the silica aerogels. Their products are thin, leading to smooth fabrication. Their technology produces aerogel boards 3x faster and at 50% lower production cost. Owing to low energy consumption, carbon footprints are lesser, too.

SCAMPER - Adapt - Krosslinker - Innovation in Aerogel

Adapting an existing process to solve a burning problem: just the right approach to innovating. And KrossLinker did the same.

Modify like Cabot Corp

The Cabot Corp’s idea of using aerogel powder in cosmetics reflects the ideology of ‘modify’ in SCAMPER.

Aerogel has a remarkable absorption capacity—quite useful to soak moisture and oil from the skin. Hence, if added in the powder form, it’s beneficial to enhance cosmetic functioning.

A skin product renders a matt finish by soaking the oily layer from the skin. Aerogel’s addition helps maintain anti-caking and free-flow properties in skin and beauty products. Also, it helps retain the fragrance.

Innovations in Aerogels - Modify like Cabot Corp

A small touch of aerogel to the beauty products magnifies their properties. What are your thoughts on modifying an already available product and coming up with a new idea?

Put To Another Use Like Kalwall

Aerogel by nature is translucent with a blue tint. Kalwall used this property of aerogel and made use in construction for good daylight trapping in massive structures.

While maintaining the buildings’ aesthetics, their structures make the indoor ambiance cozy and conducive to living. They offer museum-quality daylighting™, Skyroofs®, skylights, canopies, and walkways with aerogels. Not only are these products great for natural lighting, but are also great as thermal insulators.

Another benefit of using Kalwall’s design system is, they help the tenants and owners save on energy expenses. The carbon footprints of these buildings are also low. Kalwall panels also claim to be self-cleaning and resist UV rays.

Innovations in Aerogels - Kalwall - Put to Another Use

Putting a product in a different market is a risk. But a little resilience and perseverance can bring success; Kalwall has proved this.

Eliminate With Bronx Culture

While manufacturing aerogel, Bronx Culture might have thought about one question: How can we achieve the same or better aerogel without superfluous byproducts? Or simply put: what can we remove in the process to make the end product equivalent or better?

Using the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) technique of making aerogel with cellulose fibers, Bronx Culture has developed Oryza Aerogel. Cellulose fibers are obtained by mulching the paper. NUS’s manufacturing process generates zero byproducts, saving the landfills from paper wastes.

Oryza Aerogel has no crystalline silica dust in the residues. This means a safe working environment for workers by minimizing the hazardous effects due to inhalation and contact.

Innovations in Aerogels - Bronx Culture - Eliminate - SCAMPER

Bronx also eliminated eco hazards by adopting green and eco-friendly manufacturing processes. The NUS technique consumes less energy and lesser hazardous chemicals. Paper that goes otherwise into landfills is now a source of aerogel.

Isn’t it time to go green and eliminate environmental perils in our innovations, just like Bronx Culture?

Rearrange Like Dunlop Racquets

“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” – Charles Kettering, Inventor

When Dunlop decided to manufacture racquets using aerogel, they might have one question in mind: How can we rearrange the current structure for better results?

Dunlop rearranged the design and structure of their racquets to provide more strength and shock absorption. Due to its extreme strength and lightweight, aerogel was a perfect answer to making the racquets better.

The company placed aerogel strategically at 2, 5, 7, and 10 o’clock positions in the racket’s hoop. This increased the size of the sweet spots and spiked the stability of the racquets. These racquets also have Dunlop’s patented Aerobridge technology. Aerobridge is a dampening system, which cancels string vibration. For this, they use an aerogel sleeve in the throat of the racquets.

Innovations in Aerogels - Dunlop Rackets - Rearrange - SCAMPER

The design has helped players win world titles. Rearranging or reversing a technology like reverse engineering is a proven and old style to handle problems and works well in many fields. 

What is one thing you can rearrange in a design or even look in the reverse direction to solve a burning issue?

Let’s Sum it Up

SCAMPER, time and again, has proven to be useful for problem-solving and innovating worthy products. The best part of SCAMPER is that it forces you to question the status quo and as you know best the breakthrough innovations come when you challenge the status quo. 

Do try it in your next R&D meeting. Whether you work as a one-person team or in a group, idea generation this way is systematic and result-oriented. So, which of the 7 methods are you choosing to solve a problem? Tell us in the comments section; we are open to brainstorming. Feel free to download the questions list for all the 7 methods by filling the form below!

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