The Linear Model of Innovation

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The Linear Model of Innovation is an early model of innovation that suggests technical change and the development process happen in a linear fashion from Invention to Innovation to Diffusion. The model is also known as the Traditional Phase Gate Model/ It is one of the fist conceptual frameworks that have ever been developed in order to enhance a better understanding of the relationship(s) between science (and technology) and economic development. According to www.wikipedia.org, the original model of three phases of the process of Technological Change is as shown in the figure below.

Figure 1. Process of Technological Change

The Linear Model of Innovation prioritizes scientific research as the basis of innovation, and plays down the role of later players in the innovation process. The model further postulates that innovation starts with Basic Research, followed by Applied Research, then Development, and ends with production and diffusion as shown diagrammatically below.

Figure 2. The detailed Linear Model of Innovation

Under this model, innovation process in enterprises involves series of sequential phases/steps arranged in such a manner that the preceding phase must be cleared before moving to next phase. Thus a project must pass through a gate with the permission of “gatekeeper” before moving to the next succeeding phase. The “gatekeeper” examines whether the stated objectives for preceding phase have been properly met or not and whether desired development has taken place at the preceding phase or not. Two versions of the linear model of innovation are often presented: "technology push" and the "market pull" model. The former version is when the industrial innovation process is generally perceived as a linear progression from scientific discovery, through technological development in firms, to the marketplace. The stages of the "Technology Push" model are: Basic science, Design and engineering, Manufacturing, Marketing and Sales as shown in the diagram below.

Figure 3. The “Technology Push” version of the Linear Model of Innovation

The "market pull" model of innovation, on the other hand, is a simple sequential model, in which the market is the source of new ideas for directing Research & Development ,which has a reactive role in the process. The stages of the "market pull " model are: Market need-- Development-- Manufacturing—Sales as shown below.

Figure 4. The “market pull” version of the Linear Model of Innovation

The Linear Model of Innovation has been very influential and still remains applicable in modern day innovation activities in one or more of the ways mentioned below. In Zimbabwe, basic research(or pure research) has been and still continues to be locally applicable since it is the main activity for most higher and tertiary institutions, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), and Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) being some of the top examples of academic institutions that are very participative in the basic/pure research activities. Also there are other institutions and boards that are involved in basic researc activities to fulfill the first stage of the Linear Model of Innovation. For example the The Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe (MRCZ) is a specialised undertaking that offers programme aimed at providing basic understanding in biomedicines. A few years ago we noticed some basic researches being carried out on the Jatropha tree by institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and other associates. Also, it can be seen that the Linear Model of Innovation is applicable to the modern day innovation activities as evidenced by the wide adoption of the Applied Research, the next stage in the Linear Model of Innovation, and a form of systematic inquiry involving the practical application of science. It accesses and uses some part of the research communities' (the academy's) accumulated theories, knowledge, methods,...
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