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5 Steps to Perfect Your Innovation Funnel

Learn how to streamline your innovation process with these five essential steps to perfect your innovation funnel.

Cale Bannister

Marketing Manager


6 minute read

Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful business, but without a streamlined process, it can become a daunting and time-consuming task.

That's where the innovation funnel comes in. An innovation funnel is a process that helps businesses refine their ideas and bring new products and services to market more efficiently.

In this blog, we'll share five essential steps for perfecting your innovation funnel and make your innovation process smoother and more effective.

These steps include identifying opportunities, ideation and concept development, evaluation and prioritisation, prototyping and testing, and finally, implementation and scaling.

Step 1: Identifying Opportunities

Identifying Opportunities is a crucial aspect of perfecting the innovation funnel. It involves conducting thorough market research and trend analysis to identify areas where innovation can drive differentiation. Market research is crucial to understanding the needs, behaviours, and preferences of your target audience. It involves gathering insights about your potential customers to understand their buying behaviour and attitudes.

On the other hand, trend analysis helps identify emerging technologies, industry trends, and customer behaviour to identify new products or services that can meet increasing demand in the market. By adopting trend analysis, businesses can better understand the scope of their products or services and ensure their product innovation roadmap meets the demands of their target audience.

The key to identifying opportunities is to keep an open mind and look for pain points in the market that your business can address. Identifying pain points is not enough; it is crucial to convert such knowledge into actionable innovation ideas that provide customer value and market differentiation. Tools like social media listening, customer surveys, sales data, and customer feedback can provide insights into areas where customers face challenges.

Step 2: Ideation and Concept Development

Ideation and Concept Development is a critical phase in the innovation funnel. During this stage, the main objective is to brainstorm and generate a number of ideas to solve the identified problems from step one.

After brainstorming, the next step is to refine the generated ideas into viable concepts. When refining, it's essential to consider factors such as feasibility, scalability, market fit, and impact. These factors will help in selecting the best concepts that can be developed further.

Collaboration is also crucial during the concept development phase as it helps to refine the ideas further and identify potential stumbling blocks. Collaboration could be among the team members or the stakeholders. Each concept should be evaluated and prioritised based on its feasibility, potential impact, scalability, and market fit.

To make the concepts more actionable, it's vital to develop a detailed plan and strategy. This plan should include timelines, resources required, budget, and a clear roadmap for the concept's development. By doing this, it becomes easier to track the progress of each concept and ensure that they are moving in the right direction.

Step 3: Evaluation and Prioritisation

Evaluation and prioritisation is the third step in perfecting your innovation funnel. At this stage, you'll need to assess the potential viability and impact of each concept developed in step two.

Evaluation criteria can include feasibility, market size, scalability, and competitive landscape. Evaluation is crucial in determining which of the ideas have the most potential and which should move forward in the process.

Prioritise concepts based on factors like feasibility, impact, and how well it aligns with your business goals. Prioritisation boosts innovation and helps to ensure the best ideas get the resources they need to succeed.

Step 4: Prototyping and Testing

Prototyping and testing is the fourth step in perfecting your innovation funnel. It's necessary to test your concepts before final implementation to ensure they work as planned and meet the needs of your target audience.

Prototyping is creating a low-fidelity version of your product or service to gather feedback. User feedback is essential in making iterations and refinements to make the innovation more effective and efficient. To test your prototypes, create a specific target audience and look for feedback on user experience, ease of use, and other essential metrics.

This testing and feedback process allows businesses to reduce the level of uncertainty and risk associated with developing new products.

Step 5: Implementation and Scaling 

Implementation and scaling is the final step in perfecting your innovation funnel. It's the stage where your innovative product or service transitions from the idea stage to production and sale.

Successful implementation requires a strategic and coordinated effort across the organisation, use of resources and channels that are readily available to your business. Consider the pricing model, marketing plan, customer support, and logistics required to support and scale your innovation.

Utilise feedback and insights obtained from previous stages to achieve optimal efficiency and effectiveness. Integration is also essential to regular business operations to ensure the success of your innovation.

Maximising the innovation funding opportunities available

Innovation is a critical component of national development, and governments around the world are taking measures to encourage innovative companies. The UK government has been at the forefront of this drive, offering several funding opportunities to help companies maximise their potential. The most notable of these opportunities are Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits, Innovate UK, and Horizon Europe Grants.

R&D Tax Credits are a tax relief designed to incentivise innovation and research in the UK. Companies that spend money on developing new products, processes or services, or improving existing ones, can claim these credits to reduce their tax liability. The credit can also be offset against payroll taxes, offering a significant boost to businesses.

Innovate UK is another funding option offered by the UK government. It is specifically designed to support and encourage cutting-edge companies in the UK to innovate and grow. Innovate UK provides grants to businesses in the form of loans, equity investment or grants. The funding can be used for research and development, construction and testing of prototypes, and progression through manufacturing and commercialisation stages.

Horizon Europe grants are an additional innovation funding opportunity targeted at supporting research and innovation programs within the EU. The program aims to boost the competitiveness of EU Member States by supporting research efforts in strategic areas, such as health and mobility and the good news is for the UK's science and technology sectors, the United Kingdom will join Horizon Europe and Copernicus programmes

To maximise the potential of these funding opportunities, it is vital to understand the eligibility criteria and the application process. Companies must ensure that they meet the criteria for each funding option before applying and provide detailed information to support their application. Furthermore, companies must be diligent in adhering to the guidelines provided when utilising these government funding opportunities.

Learn all about how to document your R&D activities and the best practices for successful R&D tax claims.

Looking to claim R&D tax credits or apply for a grant?

Get in touch today and make sure your company receives the innovation funding it deserves with our professional, hassle-free service.

Call our team on 0207 118 6045 or send us a message using our contact form and we’ll call you back.

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