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The Innovation Funnel – The Key to Successful Product Development

Innovation is crucial for corporate growth. In order to push your business and brand forward, you need to continually develop fresh ideas, and bring the best of them to market. This requires an effective innovation process; introducing the Innovation Funnel!

What is the Innovation Funnel?

The Innovation Funnel is a framework for effective and efficient product or process development. This tool encourages businesses to screen products for viability whilst also helping them to maintain a competitive advantage. So how should you go about building your Innovation Funnel?

Building Your Innovation Funnel

  • Think strategically – ensure that all outputs of innovation are aligned with your business’ objectives.
  • Consider time and resources – the aim is to optimise the value of your organisation, giving you an advantage in the marketplace.
  • Determine your major criteria. This is the easiest way to filter out the weakest concepts. Examples could include:
    • Is there a market for the product?
    • Would developing this product represent a risk?
    • To what extent does the product meet the demands of the consumer?
  • Review your criteria on a regular basis in order to stay ahead of market trends.

Now it’s time to generate some new product development ideas.

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Using the Innovation Funnel

  • Ensure a healthy flow of ideas. These can come from anyone within your organisation but naturally, the most promising tend to come from those who have studied the competition.
  • Don’t focus on one idea in too much detail. You should instead keep an eye on the bigger picture, and keep the funnel full of new ideas.
  • Existing products should be passed through the funnel regularly to see if they meet the ever-changing criteria.
  • Don’t be hasty to emit a product from the funnel entirely. If a product fails to meet a portion of the criteria, take it back to the drawing board; adjust where necessary before trying again.

Honing and Testing

You’re only ever likely to be left with a handful of ideas that meet all of the criteria, whilst also promising to deliver on brand values. These must be tested in order for their potential to be assessed.

Feedback and ideas concerning the products should be sought from a variety of relevant stakeholders. Listen especially carefully to the feedback of your customers, and make refinements where you see necessary.


The results of the testing will help to discern which of the ideas are the strongest; if an idea is pitched successfully, the process has resulted in a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

The Innovation Funnel ultimately minimises the opportunity for you to develop a product that will not work from a commercial point of view.


Start-up businesses have the advantage when it comes to innovation. New businesses have the enviable opportunity to implement useful business processes, such as the Innovation Funnel from the beginning; this is something that larger and more established businesses might find more difficult to introduce.

Growing a business is a step-by-step process that can be accelerated when genuinely experienced partners support your journey – find and engage with suppliers who can help you with implementing your growth plans.

Blunt advice from Yorkshire Powerhouse

Now you’ve read our article on the innovation funnel – have you any more questions?

Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible – is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or can we help introduce you to an expert – please let us know:

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Simply Customer - Customer Service / Experience Expert

Clear Target Management and Business Solutions

Cardno Management Services Ltd

Charlesworth Business Growth Services


The Skipton & Ripon Enterprise Group

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