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Front End of Innovation is where the Energy Transition is

Paul Hobcraft's picture
Innovation & Energy Knowledge Provider Agility Innovation

I work as a transition advocate for innovation, ecosystems, within IIoT, and the energy system as my points of focus. I relate content to context to give greater knowledge and build the...

  • Member since 2020
  • 129 items added with 60,883 views
  • Sep 21, 2022

Gaining energy and idea generation

I have been asking myself how a combined effect of innovation and ecosystem design thinking will support the energy transition we are undertaking to give it additional traction and generation.

In a recent report released by IEA in the last week or so, "Tracking clean energy innovation in the business sector: an overview." they emphasised the point that "Acceleration of clean energy innovation, supported by effective innovation policies, is critical for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and the technology development in the business sector will be to success".

I draw from this report: "The major drawbacks are we are NOT recognizing the need to have a clear and consistent way of approaching and capturing innovation at the front end of discovery or exploration. The inconsistency of not having clarity of how innovation is undertaken and then reported uniformly is continuing to hold up upfront investment, institutional capacity building and consistent classification of technologies".

The IEA estimates that companies active in energy technologies spent almost USD 120 billion on energy R&D in 2021, three times more than governments. They remark, "Beyond these headline estimates, however, information on the energy innovation activities of firms – whether freely or commercially available; at technology level or highly aggregated – is frustratingly scarce."

We need to recognize the importance of innovation, not just on what it can bring in through future solutions but on its need to have a recognized, established process to capture, evaluate and openly report on any innovation project's progress.

The vital “infusion” of innovation in thinking, approaching and building this into the front end of any energy transition provides a more significant discovery structure and process that can significantly facilitate the changes, with more informed knowledge, insights and validation of a path to travel. We need to build an energy innovation ecosystem that shares, collaborates and openly exchanges the discovery to validate what a specific innovation solution provides so that others can gain insights and knowledge.

Without established methodologies consistently applied to energy, there are opportunities to do so; we require a recognized standard innovation process across the energy sector. One that supports collaboration, networks and knowledge sharing.

Today we lack promising answers and key uncertainties facing investors and policymakers in areas including hydrogen, smart grids, energy efficiency, electrification and many more, as concepts developed are not seen, judged or evaluated in a defined, established way. Can we afford not to get organized?

We do need to recognize the front end of energy from an innovation perspective a lot more.

Finding fresh ideas and momentum

The energy transition needs a broad array of thinking; specialists, generalists, enthusiasts and passionate people that can move beyond their own view offering a “non-ideological confrontation” where solutions are both sustainable and accelerate a path to decarbonization and net-zero without any legacy or vested interest effect.

This innovator capacity needed to be ‘enforced’ requires more significant insights and understanding of the alternatives, options, issues, and challenges.

There is a substantial role for me to play, I feel, in advising on innovation for decades.

This is why I believe my multiplier approach offers one framework to help work this complexity through the energy transition in a supportive, systematic way; the combination gives momentum, traction and fresh energy.

For me, applying the “multiplier effect” to any discovery and validation accelerates the understanding of where the potential growth and impact points of a new business opportunity can occur.

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My positioning is at the front end of the Energy Transition, building insights through the “eyes” of the strategic innovator.

I see the front end of energy as the critical feeding-in point for the energy transition. So what does this mean exactly?


  • I provide evaluations and assessments of the front end of a transformation in discovery and validation that build understanding and fresh thinking.
  • I bring "order" to the innovation process and seek to share and enhance a broader understanding of what is being achieved for others to gain equally.
  • The combination of innovation within ecosystem thinking and the design approach supports the acceleration of the energy transition.
  • Known "outputs" and "outcomes" of innovation can and will bring faster adoption and the spread of new or improved technologies in specific fields that can contribute to the acceleration of the energy transition.
  • The combination capitalizes on the value points of data assets combined with knowledge insights and business-building experience. It can offer a different multiplier effect to idea generation and momentum building.

While few of the established innovation methodologies have so far been consistently applied to energy, there are opportunities to do so. Existing methods can potentially be adapted to track the specificities of clean energy technology innovation by the business sector in ways that answer key uncertainties facing policymakers in areas including hydrogen, smart grids, energy efficiency, electrification and many more.

Offering a given value in the proposition

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I want to advance further what organizations or individuals responsible for leading the energy transition require to support and develop a more significant innovation and transformation understanding of energy transition options. To support them and build new competencies, clients achieve positive and sustaining results from these activities around the energy transition they intend to undertake.

The insights delivered aim to offer a unique view leading to a more balanced perspective, fresh inspiration and real alternatives to investigate and explore energy transitions and then to share what they have gained in insights, knowledge and value.

Explore Innovating the Energy Transition that begins to bring innovation to the fore in its need to be seen as distinctive as a structural approach to manage the energy transition going forward in a highly collaborative, networked way.

Building a better discovery and validation portfolio

To build this better discovery and validation, you do need to think differently than we do today.

We need to think about ecosystems in design and thinking ways.

We must build technology platforms to communicate, exchange and share in collaborative energy ventures to manage this energy transition on a global basis.

Extracting knowledge and applying application and practice gives clients the beginning of the “discovery and validation phase”, accelerating the client’s growth options in more structured ways, what is evolving and what impact and growth opportunities are on a business by taking the innovator’s perspective into assessing the need for a client’s energy transition.

By drawing on the external perspective, there is a significant saving in the amount of time in early resource investment. These insights and recommendations provide the triggering points for seeing fresh growth opportunities.

Does that make sense? It does to me, but maybe I am a little biased here! Let me know your thoughts, please.

Paul Hobcraft's picture
Thank Paul for the Post!
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