A practical, immersive, interactive journey into the real world of business innovation

This series of five ONLINE workshops focuses on how to successfully realise innovation in your business. How do you turn promising ideas into realisable products and services in ways that are responsible, responsive and ultimately successful?

What is innovation really all about? Innovation has been a buzz word in the business world for decades yet in recent years, both academia and industry have researched and implemented new approaches to innovation that can contribute to sustainable and commercial success.

This promises to be an exciting, interactive and immersive series of ONLINE workshops to develop innovation knowledge and skills to progress ideas to commercial value.

Delivered by the University of Brighton’s School of Business and Law’s innovation expert Paul Levy and guest experts we will explore the different types of innovation, how to start innovation projects and get authentic and feasible ideas off the ground, proving the underpinning concepts, testing ideas and building viable and motivating business cases.

During the sessions we’ll invite you to work on real ideas, prospects and the potential of your own business to work on current innovation possibilities or to develop new ones. We’ll work with a range of powerful approaches including STEPS, which offers an effective narrative way of making innovation come to life in your business.

How we’ll work together

These hands-on, interactive, challenging will cover how to undertake deep market and community analysis, conduct pilots, effect trials, alpha and beta testing as well as moving beyond collusions of mediocrity, making bold decisions on whether to launch or let go.

Combining a mix of carefully chosen current innovation theory, practical approaches with stories of both success and failure, we’ll deep dive into the world of innovation, with a not always comfortable journey through what works and what sabotages success. Join us for a real, no-nonsense exploration of innovation in the 2020s and beyond.

Who is STEPS for?

It is suitable for business owners of Small and Medium-sized businesses, including social enterprises and any staff responsible for new product or service development or operational improvement.

Let’s go a bit deeper…..what will each session cover

STEPS builds towards the successful launch of an innovation idea. This evolves over five stages, building like a great story. These stages climb towards the realisation of the innovation idea in the commercial world, delivered effectively, ethically and responsibly. We SCOPE the innovation idea (or ideas) then put those ideas to the TEST. Having rigorously tested we enter the stage of EVALUATION before we PILOT and SCALE up. At any stage the idea might not survive or need to be reframed or reimagined.

The first step is to Scope the innovation idea……..

Scope – 2nd May 2023 – 09:00am-11:00am

How do you get started on an innovation project?

Taking the first step, we will Identify ideas for innovations and how to develop initial concepts. You often hear the terms “good” or “bad” idea, but is there really such a thing as a bad idea? What are the essential characteristics of ideas and where do they really come from? What does it take to “ideate” successfully?

It is important to first scope what you are looking to achieve. In this session we will cover;

  • What do we think innovation is? We’ll look into some of the core underpinning concepts of innovation and bring that theory bang up to date
  • We’ll develop a quick understanding of different types of innovation and how invention can be turned into innovation. How inventive is your business?
  • We’ll examine how ideas that show innovation potential get turned into practical and realisable innovation projects
  • We’ll ask some uncomfortable questions: Is your business ready to innovate? Does it have what we’ll initially call “innovation capability?
  • Then we’ll go a bit further: how can you develop innovation capability from a zero base and how can you enhance it?

This is all about scoping – not only the potentially innovative ideas, but also the business as a whole.

Decide which other STEPS you need

Test – 2nd May 2023 – 11:30pm-1:30pm

We have an idea that might potentially be our next telling innovation. So, in step two, let’s put that idea (or those ideas) to the test.

That begs a big and important question: How can you prove that your idea and concept will work and what do you need to do to test that out rigorously?

In this session we’ll introduce some key approaches that enable your business to test out, and inquire into your innovation idea.

  • We’ll explore how to get a “proof of concept”. Is the idea credible, feasible and worth developing at core? What’s the evidence that proves its worth at a “thinking” level?
  • Part of that inquiry involves validation What validation do you need to prove the idea is worth pursuing? Here we look at how we can imagine our idea into the future, visioning its impact externally and internally to the business. With opinions, with responses and reactions, testing logic, budgeting and forecasting, and even imagining the disaster scenarios!
  • While looking outside we’ll test for strength and weaknesses of our developing ideas,  looking at the potential commercial offer and opportunity the idea creates and also inside at our current and potential and capability
  • We then go wider and explore the concept design, supply chains, risks and impacts as well as the tensions around legal issues such as how to protect the ideas when we start to talk about them.

The idea may not survive these tests. We may go back to square one, or the idea may need to morph into something else. We’ll challenge, be prepared to break any collusion, and these evidence and instinct-based conversations will need to be no-holds-barred real!

Evaluate – 2nd May 2023 – 3.00pm-5.00pm

The idea has survived, possibly changed and already innovated and improved. Now we have a potentially viable concept.

It’s time to evaluate. We have probably arrived at different versions of the idea, different options and scenarios.

We are beginning to consider and imagine making this idea a real commercial proposition. So, how do you further evaluate this to commercialisation?

We use a range of approaches, whether our idea is going to become a new product, a service. This gritty session will get hands-on with

  • Developing a prototype or technical roadmap. We start to work up a version of the idea in action, and what the road ahead to implementing it could look like. We revisit the usual data and knowledge identified in step 1.
  • We may need funding and agreement. We’ll need key people and groups on board. We may need funding and investment. So we’ll need to create a tangible, credible business case – what will be the underpinning business model. If our business or our customers are rooted in social values, in responsible business and sustainability we’ll need to ensure (if we haven’t already) that we are in sync with the age of climate change, trust and transparency.
  • We’ll look practically at how to build a minimum viable product (MVP). That’s the baseline version of our product or service. If we can’t build that, then we are heading for failure.
  • You’ll be challenged in this session with a fairly recent concept in the history of innovation: How to unlock the benefits of “open innovation” – what if secrecy and competition are not the best way forward for us? What if we opened up our data and shared with partners, even competitors? Open Innovation is driving much innovation in the digital space. We’ll look deeply at that approach. The big question, whether we use open innovation or not: what else do we need to learn? What are the gaps in knowledge, experience and expertise we need to fill?

Pilot – 9th May 2023 – 9.00am-11.00am

If the evaluation results in a minimum, baseline innovation that is viable – genuinely realisable then we reiterate the earlier stage of “testing” but this time we “test out”, we pilot. This can be an exciting and sometimes frightening step.

Before you launch it is best to pilot the innovation. People get to test drive, to try out and the feedback is essential and can confirm or push back. These are the first night reviews. We do this smartly and in this session we’ll explore how. From Piloting to prototyping, from focus groups and testing to destruction, from Alpha to Beta testing and beyond. It’s a learning cycle and we may need to take a step back before we take further steps forward. Learning, experimentation, feedback and feed forward… For many innovators, this is a thrilling stage; for the egos, it is painful!

In this session we will be exploring how to test the innovation on customers and wider communities in many different ways.

Scale – 9th May 2023 – 11.30pm-1.30pm

Once you have the concept tested, evaluated, working and being given an impactful thumbs up by the market and key players in the field, the next step is the big one – launch and scale up.

Of course you’ll need a plan of how to reach the market and to “give live”.

This session will cover;

  • How to develop a modern marketing strategy, one that is ethical, impactful and one that makes use of all the right data and market intelligence to hit the ground running.
  • Big questions: How do you create an inspiring and celebratory launch? How do you create an inspiring and genuinely celebratory conversation around your innovation, in both the physical and digital worlds?
  • How to deploy or launch the concept. How do we not only “launch” the innovation but also “land” it in a sustainable and commercially successful way?
  • We’ll look at the nitty gritty challenges of understanding how to licence, build, make and deliver the innovation accurately, consistently and in as lean and green a way as possible, as well as where to look for and connect with funding partners, angel investors, crowd resources and supporters. That will include how to work with University and Innovation agencies as R&D partners

Taking the STEPS together

As you can see, over the 5 sessions, the innovative narrative builds, a potential and fulfilling, sustainable and exciting story build and is delivered into the world. During these STEPS workshops, you’ll be on a journey of learning – plenty of conversation, discovery and inquiry, almost no slides but plenty of open windows into the realm of innovation, drawn from university research and real applied experience.

STEPS Clinics

Once you have taken part in one or more of our STEPS sessions you can book a 1-2-1 meeting with our innovation experts to discuss how you are going to implement the learning.

How can I take part?

Simply join RISE and we will check your eligibility for the programme. You need to be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise and based in the West Sussex or wider Coast to Capital region.

Book your space and add your details on the button on the right.

Each workshop session is valued at £100 of State Aid support. If participants complete all five workshops the value of this workshop series will be £500. State aid information is detailed in our T&Cs.

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Date and Time:


May 02, 2023


Online - Zoom

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