Exploring Technology Scouting Best Practices in Europe: Lessons from the Leaders

May 25, 2023
2 mins read

At Findest, we’ve had the privilege of working with over 300 innovators across Europe and beyond. Our clients range from innovative SMEs to the biggest and most successful corporate innovators. We’ve witnessed firsthand how these top companies utilise technology scouting to stay ahead of the curve. Without name-dropping any corporates, we’d like to share some of the best practices we have observed in European technology scouting.

1. Identifying Knowledge Needs: Predicting Customer Demand

Determine knowledge needs at the highest level: The best companies start by identifying their knowledge needs based on predictions of customer demand. For example, a consumer electronics company might forecast that voice-activated smart home devices will dominate future markets, so they focus their technology scouting efforts on related technologies such as natural language processing and low energy-consuming microphones.

2. Mapping Knowledge with Tools: Technology Roadmaps and Innovation Structure Trees

Utilise Technology Roadmaps and Innovation Structure Trees: These companies use tools like Technology Roadmaps or Innovation Structure Trees to map out the required knowledge. This helps them uncover potential solution areas and identify gaps in their current capabilities. A pharmaceutical company might use this approach to describe solution fields that could potentially develop into new drug delivery methods, identifying possibilities such as nanoparticle-based systems or targeted gene therapies.

3. Cross-functional Scouting: Distributing Work Across Teams

Distribute scouting work across teams: Top corporates have a well-designed structure for distributing scouting work among various groups, including R&D teams, CTO offices, long-term research teams, and centralised technology scouting teams. For instance, an automotive company could assign specific scouting tasks to their electric vehicle division while involving cross-functional teams to explore shared technologies like advanced materials or sensor systems.

4. Clear Roles and Responsibilities: Streamlining Innovation Processes

Define clear responsibilities: In these organisations, it’s clear where R&D professionals are responsible for their technology scouting and what parts are delegated to centralised technology scouting teams. This ensures that everyone involved in the innovation process understands their role and can effectively contribute to the overall effort.

5. Proof-of-Concept Tests: Allocating Resources for Innovation Evaluation

Allocate resources for small innovation tests: The best companies make resources available for proof-of-concept tests with potential suppliers. An aerospace company, for example, might partner with a startup to test new lightweight composite materials in a small-scale prototype before fully committing to implementation.

6. Enhancing Knowledge Management: Capture, Structure, and Share R&D Insights

Capture, structure, and share knowledge effectively: Top organisations have tools to capture, structure, and share the knowledge gathered through technology scouting efforts. For instance, a renewable energy company might create a centralised database containing information about promising solar cell technologies, making it accessible to R&D teams working on various projects.

At Findest, we are currently working on The Findest Universe, a new product that helps corporates address the last point mentioned above. Our platform is designed to capture, structure, and share R&D knowledge within teams and across organisations, further enhancing their technology scouting and knowledge dissemination efforts.

In conclusion, the best corporate innovators in Europe have a solid plan for incorporating technology scouting into their organisations. They actively work on getting suitable systems and tools to make technology scouting an integral part of their innovation strategy. By learning from these leaders and adopting their best practices—such as defining clear roles, allocating resources for testing, and effectively sharing knowledge—your company can also stay ahead of the curve in today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving technological landscape.

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