Breakthrough Innovation - Definition, Importance, Creation and Examples


Breakthrough Innovation – Definition, Importance, Creation and Examples

Breakthrough Innovation – Definition, Importance, Creation and Examples

What is breakthrough innovation?

Breakthrough innovation is defined as an innovation from inside a company that pushes something to the next level. So, this innovation is when you bring something new to the world.


Breakthrough innovation is an important concept in innovation strategy as it can demonstrate virtually all societal progress or real economic growth that is driven by disruptions.


It has a greater return on investment but with much bigger risks.

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Importance of Breakthrough Innovation Entrepreneurship

  • Breakthrough innovation is a radical new approach that leaves the competition behind in some way.  


  • It can bring enormous opportunities for the business to reach the next growth cycle and deliver high business value.


  • Breakthrough innovation is disruptive and changes your organization in many fields, making entire industries obsolete, as digital photography did to the film industry.


  • Responding to the true human need is the very goal of breakthrough innovation.


  • This innovation is very risky but you will get great chances and opportunities for new product lines or platforms to make this innovation happening.


How to develop breakthrough innovation?

Now that you hopefully have a better idea of what this innovation is, the obvious remaining question is how to make it happen. I will break the process down into three basic steps.


  • Identify the right problem or opportunity –

Every breakthrough innovation starts either from solving an existing problem in the market. In the early stages, if you’re shooting for this innovation, a good rule of thumb is that people need to think of your plan as crazy, or at least very overambitious.


For example, Elon Musk has stated that “Starting a car company is idiotic and an electric car company is idiocy squared”.


  • Address the opportunity with innovation –

Once you’ve identified an appropriate problem or opportunity, the next step is simply to address that with a key innovation.


This innovation will then be the backbone and the platform on which you can then build your business. For example, Tesla with an electric drivetrain.


  • Scale the innovation to breakthrough impact – 

It always takes years of focus on building and scaling a business around innovation before it leads to breakthrough impact.


The lightbulb needed an electric grid to become mainstream and illuminate entire cities.  Personal computers took off only after operating systems with graphical user interfaces made them viable for the masses.  


Some companies such as Tesla choose to take care of supporting innovations themselves.


Breakthrough Innovation Examples


One of the best examples of breakthrough innovation on the tech front is the first iPhone. Apple was able to bring a fundamentally new product to the market, creating new demand in the process.



Blippar is a ground-breaking visual search app that recognizes objects in the real world. They then use augmented reality to bring them to life through fresh content. 


The app uses machine learning to recognize its environment that makes it another great example of this type of innovation.



The world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner created by Dyson is based on an existing business model. This approach is what’s behind Dyson Cool that is the company’s bladeless fan.



While creating a breakthrough innovation is quite simple on paper, it’s anything but in real life! This innovation isn’t for the faint of heart.


If your management or investors don’t fully understand how difficult breakthrough innovation is and how it is often likely to take some time before you see significant progress.


The odds are your innovation projects won’t survive, even if you had what it takes to pull them off.


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