Do you know how gunpowder was created? The Chinese emperor Wu Di (156-87 B.C.) wanted to have eternal life. He invested a significant number of resources, and his alchemists did a lot of unsuccessful experiments mixing and heating Sulphur and Saltpeter.
Way later, during the 8th century, the idea was developed, and charcoal was added to the mixture. This substance also didn’t grant eternal life but at least proved itself useful in treating skin conditions and killing insects. Until, by chance, the alchemists found its explosive properties. This story demonstrates one of the ways to achieve significant innovation – by accident. However, there’s another, more successful way, which ensures having control over the process and managing the risks. The Sirius way! Our innovation process includes multiple small and well-considered steps rather than one big and dangerous jump. This step by step approach allows us to take fewer risks and to control our investment throughout the whole process.
But what are the exact steps we’re taking?
Step 1: The spark
Every innovation starts with a spark! It can come from our clients who want to develop a unique product line when the market still doesn’t offer the necessary ingredients. The spark can also come from the manufacturers, who let us know that they can supply us with an innovative product without a specific market for it yet. The spark might also involve cradle-to-cradle considerations around existing products. If you’re interested in this, don’t miss our March 2019 newsletter. Sirius is the bridge between the manufacturers of raw materials and their potential customers. During every meeting with any party, we discuss the possibilities for innovations. We ask the right questions and listen very carefully. Furthermore, we keep track not only on the primary processes of our associates but also on what they’re conducting as side projects. Most ideas we pick up are immature at this stage.
Step 2: Choose the right people
We also consider whether the people with whom we’re about to work have the necessary expertise and the right innovative mindset. For example, at the end of 2016, a potential customer reached out to us and asked whether it would be possible to produce ethoxylated fatty alcohols and SLES purely from vegetal raw materials. At first, we, as well as European consultants we asked, thought there’s no way to do this. Until we asked around in a country living much closer to nature and found the right people to collaborate with. This was the beginning of an innovative process, which lead to expanding our portfolio with the Ethoxybrites EFA and Ethoxybrite SLES.
Step 3: The first molecule
After designing the molecule on paper, the right partner makes the first molecule. Followed by the most crucial part of the innovation process – the testing by the customer, as early as possible.
Step 4: Improve the molecule
If we have decided to continue with the experiment, we improve the molecule and make sure that it serves its initial purpose. We recognize our collaborators dreams and implement the formula “innovation = 10% dream + 90% work”. The “work” phase includes testing, getting surprised, making mistakes, falling and getting up again.
Step 5: The volume and cost estimate
The potential volumes and costs estimates are made on such a later stage because we don’t want to ruin the creative process of the innovators. However, being aware of the investment needed for a certain innovation is crucial.
Step 6: REACH registration
At this stage, it’s time for the REACH registration to begin. Within REACH there is room to temporarily exempt innovations from expensive registration until market viability is proven. The first 999kgs are free of registration anyway.
Step 7: Packaging and manufacture
After receiving the registration confirmation, we consider the convenient packaging options. During this final phase, the producers make changes in their systems to provide commercial volumes
Step 8: Follow up
The last aspect of the successful innovation process comes approximately two years after releasing the product. Then we discuss with our partners the future of the substance or mixture as well as some legal aspects concerning the collaboration. And we assess whether we can foresee the next version of this innovation.
The Sirius Effect:
As a conclusion, we might say that any idea can become a breakthrough innovation. It just needs the right people and the appropriate process! Do you have an innovative idea? Then you need a trustworthy and experienced partner! Call Sirius International today and let’s discuss it further. Together we can change the future.
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