Our innovation management research looks at how organisations in low technology and process industries (such as food) can optimise the management of their product and process development. For example, the benefits of optimisation can be significant – saving just one penny on the packaging of one food item can save food producers millions of pounds.
Even in low technology industries, such as the food industry, innovation is a complex process, driven by the application of technology from other industries and extensive trial and error in labs and production environments. Our research helps firms understand how to generate new opportunities from these activities.
We ask how organisations can effectively manage product development through innovation. We seek to understand how they can integrate product development and process development, and use new technology from other industries to create innovative products and meet the needs of the changing environment – including the need to be sustainable.
The growing demand for firms to care for the environment drives an increasing need for new technology. In particular, the food industry is facing consumer pressure to reduce food and packaging waste. Through our research, we help businesses and governments understand how to prioritise where to focus efforts. For example, while plastic packaging is unpopular, a bunch of bananas in a plastic bag can quadruple its shelf life, considerably reducing food waste. Some products are also much more integrated with their packaging, such as ready meals, that require packaging to cook the food.
Our research helps organisations within the public sector understand how to meet changing market needs and innovate, including by changing their business models. Examples of public sector innovations include the London Congestion Charge which led to improvements in controlling air pollution, and the movement online of government bureaucratic processes such as renewing passport and driving licences, which keeps costs down and streamlines customer experiences.
Our work covers the following topics
- Innovation in the food industry
- New packaging for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG)
- Manufacturing process and product innovation
- Developing new products for the elderly market
- Supply chain, product development and adoption
- Sustainable product development, packaging and food waste
- Eco innovation
- Big data and patent analysis for the development of new opportunities
- Innovation in the public sector
- Effectual and causal approaches in the Covid environment
Partnerships and collaborations
We have extensive experience of working on collaborative research projects with industry. We worked with Crown Holdings, a leading metal packaging manufacturer, to gather information on elderly consumers' experience of packaging.
This information was used by Crown Holdings to develop new product ideas that better meet the needs of older people. We have recently completed a project with KernPack, a packaging machinery specialist, to explore how investment in production processes can impact the development of new products and reduce time-to-market.
We've received government grants and funding from industry collaborators, including small and large firms – and we have extensive experience of gaining Knowledge Transfer Partnership funding.
Our understanding of the management of innovation and new product development is combined with the University's facilities within the Future Technology Centre, the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Science. This enables us to combine our understanding of effective innovation management with scientific and technical resources.
Research Policy, Volume 50, Issue 6, 2017, Pages 1-18, Aldo Stornelli, Sercan Ozcan, and Chris Simms
Research Policy, Volume 46, Issue 3, 2017, Pages 605-623, Paul Trott, Chris Simms
Public Management Review, Volume 23, Issue 3, 2021, Pages 326-353, Emre Cinar, Paul Trott, and Chris Simms
Research Policy, Volume 48, p.339-354, Dusana Hullova, Chris Simms, Paul Trott, Pavel Laczko
Qualitative Market Research, Volume 22, Issue 3, Pages 435-455, Nicholas Ford, Paul Trott, and Chris Simms
Discover our areas of expertise
We're investigating the social and economic factors affecting entrepreneurship and the economy, and how small business practices affect entrepreneurship.
We're identifying how businesses can embed sustainability practices to contribute to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Interested in a PhD in Business & Management?
Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Business & Management postgraduate research degrees page.