I am not an innovation expert, but I have watched this space from a new multi-faceted perspective outside of corporate American for nearly two years now. Here are some thoughts and hunches for those of you providing CI support to the R&D and innovation communities. These are things I would pursue, advocate and ask my R&D and innovation friends about. How well are they doing with:
1) Grassroots connections outside of big research labs, academia, established commercial entities in your space: Young President's Organizations, local CEO Round Tables (small firms), angel investor events where new bus ideas are presented, local incubators of all sizes, futurist institutes & alternative educators who are thinking "outside the box", transition services for people out of work (all scientists have pet projects they never got to work on)
2) Reaching out to growing rosters of inventors no longer aligned to corporate agendas...retirees or in in-transition types. YourEncore, Gerson Lehrman, Innocentive, Intota come to mind. YourEncore has a roster of 2000+ "retired" life scientist thinking, helping, looking for new challenges.
3) Replicating localized networking practiced by local legal and CPAs and commercial bankers as they "stalk" emerging businesses in the community. Join SCORE (Service Corp or Retired Execs...you don't have to be retired!) to join in the free and forever counseling they offer to local business. Visit local job networking groups where innovative people are in transition and often have great ideas but lack confidence in how to pursue on their own. In my community attorneys spend 400-500+ hours of community service doing "outreach"...how many scientists and other innovators are doing that. Follow local innovators on their blogs and SM activities.
Identify principals or inventors at local firms and follow them.
4) Go younger. The essence of credentialing through academic degrees simply has to change with the advent of information technology and the deluge of sources and types of self-learning processes out there. No educator can keep up with and presume to "teach" beyond a certain increasingly basic level. Efforts of academicians will be increasingly stretched towards keeping up their own knowledge and applying it. Knowledge is simply growing too fast and the tools to access it and synthesize from it are completely redefining academia. More and more adjuncts are being brought in to keep it real and this will lead to further dilution of the old ways.
An increasing number of teens and twenty somethings are likely to be innovating on their own as they are forced to evolve their own ways of learning independently and sharing these with each other "outside the box". Find & sponsor these communities or create them: Junior Achievement, science fairs, community" sessions targeted on specific problems, create a micro-finance venture fund for kids, penetrate the home school community where more flexible learning can be the norm, re-purpose young game creators into other kinds of invention, encourage failure as a learning tool.
5) Leaving 'em alone. At least leave more or 'em alone. How many brilliant people come into corporate R&D environment and are completely frustrated and disillusioned with 2-3 years because they were not allowed to create, innovate when they were under the impression that is whey they were hired. Meeting more and more of them. Sure teach them how to do basic commercial assessments to be selective about what they work on and make sure they know your strategies intimately.