Innovation Assessment


A step-by-step approach for increasing innovative capacity.

Today, companies must innovate if they want to remain in the digital economy.  But how innovative are they really - compared to the competition?  They can find out by performing a comprehensive assessment, followed by rapid and sustainable improvements.

The project: A new building with a modern architecture. In the request for proposals stage, all participants probably believe that they have the best and most innovative design. But then most participants are cut in the first round. The situation is similar for companies’ products - not only when it comes to requests for proposals, but also with new solutions for customers. Just how innovative and convincing these solutions are only becomes obvious when they have to compete against others.

This even applies to entire business models, which have so far developed gradually, over decades. In the course of the digitization process, companies must continuously supplement, adjust or even completely redesign their business models. Because only those who consistently generate, enhance and implement new ideas can profit from digitization.


Comparison with other companies

Many companies think that they are innovative enough. But this internal viewpoint is no longer enough. They should conduct a type of reference test to compare their innovative capacity to that of other companies and competitors. The innovate! new Assessment offers the perfect tool in this regard.

Innovation Assessments allow companies to systematically capture the current situation of their innovation management and compare it against (currently) 125 other companies from different industry sectors. This allows them to identify action fields and develop measures to become a top performer in the digital world.

The innovate! new Assessment is one of the world’s largest studies on innovation benchmarking. It was developed by an international team of scientists and company representatives, under the coordination of the Platform for Innovation (PFI). Prof. Dr. Sören Salomo, Technische Universität Berlin and Prof. Dr. Carsten Schultz, Universität zu Kiel, managed the scientific activities of the team. The continually optimized assessment is supposed to strengthen innovative capacity by developing and optimizing innovation management. This is particularly true in the case of digital innovations.

The Mittelstand 4.0 competence center in Kiel provides companies with an opportunity to participate in an innovate! new Assessment of their innovative capacity free of charge.

Participation is made possible by a grant from the Federal Ministry for Industry and Energy in connection with the Mittelstand 4.0 initiative. Additional information:


The Innovation Excellence Model

The Innovation Excellence Model forms the basis of the assessment. It is used to assess the individual innovation management footprint of a company. Through a comparison with other organizations, the company can determine how well it is doing in different areas of innovation management. Innovation performance is at the center of this model. It shows the extent to which innovation contributes to the company's success (e.g. through a high number of new products). Performance is the result of an environment that encourages innovation, and a structured innovation process.

Conditions that promote innovation

Conditions that promote innovation are divided into innovation culture, innovation strategy and organization.

The historically-grown innovation culture describes the established values, standards and attitudes that guide employee behavior. It decides whether the company has a climate that promotes innovation. And it includes such factors such as error culture or entrepreneurial attitude, including the willingness to take calculated risks.

The innovation strategy is part of the business strategy and specifies the innovation fields, e.g. in relation to certain technologies. It also looks at how ambitious they are. For example, it defines the time period in which an idea should make its way into the market.

Clear responsibilities for coordinating the innovative activities must be defined in the company's organization . In addition, it should define innovation processes that nevertheless provide the required flexibility for efficient and effective implementation.

Structured innovation process

Together, initiation, development and market introduction represent the innovation process of a company.

At the beginning is initiation, which is not very structured and is characterized by openness and creativity. During this early phase, information about market participants should be gathered and technology trends should be tracked to create an understanding of the market and to generate promising ideas.

In the next development phase, the focus shifts increasingly on efficiency targets, which means that expertise in project management plays an important role in this context. Not least because of the varying degrees to which external partners are involved, innovation projects should be managed in a differentiated manner and should be adjusted to different scenarios.

The third phase comprises all activities designed to ensure the successful market introduction of an innovation. This phase must be planned very carefully, also in relation to the company's position and intensity of cooperation.


Sustained increase in innovative capacity

The specific process for increasing a company's innovative capacity consists of four phases.

In the first step (Assessment), the company determines the current status with the help of a questionnaire, followed by benchmarking and the preparation of an extensive report. The questionnaire surveys a number of employees in different departments (who are involved in innovation activities) about the strength of the various innovation management components that are contained in the Innovation Excellence Model.

The resulting specific potentials and action fields are subsequently identified during the second step, namely a Workshop moderated by the experts. The foundation for establishing a core innovation team can then be developed during a Training session, in order to strengthen the identified action fields for the long term. Finally, concrete measures for rapidly increasing innovation capacity can be defined and implemented in the context of an individual Project.



Digitization can be understood as an innovation process. The innovate! new Assessment offers a good tool for systematically capturing the current status of innovation management and comparing it to many other companies, which leads to the identification of action fields and the development of concrete measures. It allows companies to avoid the dangers of digitization and take advantage of the resulting potential. In addition, a new assessment after a few years can be used to confirm the success of these measures.