About Innovation

The process of creating and implementing ideas for new products, services or processes to create value in your business.


Why should businesses innovate?

Innovation is vital for business survival. Businesses must innovate to adapt and grow in a competitive marketplace. Products become outdated quickly and customer preferences change. Your business will have a better chance of survival if it implements an innovation management system to continuously bring new ideas to market.

The ultimate goal of the Programme is to increase the number of Northern Ireland businesses successfully engaging in innovation.

Innovative businesses:

  • Are more profitable because they manage operations more efficiently and effectively
  • Win customers who will pay a premium for goods & services that meet changing needs
  • Survive market shocks because they are better equipped to adapt their business models

Definition of business innovation

The development and implementation of a new or improved product, service, model, or process which is novel (significantly different), and has/will be introduced to the market (product/service) or implemented within the business (process, model) creating value.

The Innovate NI Programme

Our Innovation Programme has four distinct elements:

  • Innovation Assessment
  • The Innovation Framework
  • Innovation Recognition
  • Innovation Management Standards

What is the Innovation Framework?

The Innovation Framework provides a pathway to bring your idea from concept to market. Many business have a lot of good ideas, but they can only create value if they reach commercialisation or implementation.

What are the Innovation Recognition Levels?

We have developed four innovation recognition levels that correspond with the four steps in the innovation management framework – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. On completion of each step in the framework, you’ll receive a certificate and promotional materials from the Department for the Economy. 

What is the Innovation Assessment?

The Innovation Assessment is a diagnostic tool that helps you find out how innovative your business is. Enter the details of your innovation activities and you’ll find your current position on the Innovation Framework and you’ll receive recognition of your
achievements. You can repeat the Innovation Assessment as your idea develops to ensure your recognition level is accurate.

What is innovation management?

Innovation management is a structured process to ensure business continuously follows the principles of innovation. By integrating innovation management into the culture of your organisation, your business will be more competitive, profitable and resilient.

What is value creation?

Value creation is the ultimate goal of innovation. Your idea will add value to your business if it has successfully progressed through
the Innovation Framework.

What is Innovate NI?

InnovateNI is a Department for the Economy initiative, delivered by Invest Northern Ireland, in partnership with local councils and further education colleges. Our goal is to increase the number of Northern Ireland businesses engaged in innovation.

Innovate NI will:

  • Raise awareness of the importance of business innovation
  • Work with stakeholders such as further and higher education colleges, local councils, Innovate UK and Intertrade Ireland to recognise business innovation
  • Provide best practice guidance to help businesses innovate successfully
  • Encourage the use of the Innovation Framework to support successful innovation