Bottom-up or top-down, innovation is driven by vision and willpower
For all the talk about creating an innovation culture and the elusive search for the fertile ground where innovation willmagically pop up, the juxtaposition of two articles in the Sunday economic press reminded me that innovation can happen in all fields and in all kind of ways.
The first article was about the launch of the first baguette dispenser in Paris. Baker-innovator Jean-Louis Hecht both leverages and challenges the mythical French baguette cultural cliché to create a 24/7 vending machine that can hold pre-cooked baguettes in a refrigerated compartment and do the rest of the cooking on demand, delivering a crisp and steaming finish for just 1€. Operating margins are reported to be 30% higher than that of a bakery shop. Growth avenues include:
- Competing with traditional bakeries on cost
- Building on the 24/7 convenience buying
- Equipping rural areas where traditional bakeries have gone out of business.
Next to the 24/7 baguette, was an article about ITER, the large-scale scientific experiment that aims to demonstrate that it is possible to produce commercial energy from fusion. The scientific goal of the ITER project: to deliver ten times the power it consumes. From 50 MW of input power, the ITER machine is designed to produce 500 MW of fusion power—the first of all fusion experiments to produce net energy and set humanity on a sustainable energy path.
While the first 24/7 baguette dispenser comes at a cost of 30 thousand € supported by single entrepreneur, the ITER project represents a cost of 13 billion € shared by 34 countries.
At the end of the day, whether it is bottom-up entrepreneur-driven or top-down state-driven, innovation can happen anywhere, provided the vision and the willpower.