Recessions Are Good Times for Innovation, R&D

January 6, 2009

Peter Singer, the editor-in-chief for Solid State Technology magazine, has a pair of articles this month pointing out how recessions and other economic downturns can be fertile times for innovation and research and development.

A recent report from Greentech Media and the Prometheus Institute, titled Photovoltaics Innovation in North America, notes that tightening credit markets and the higher costs of capital will slow demand for PV installations in established markets. “Recessions, however, historically are potent times for research, development, and innovation, which require little in the way of project finance. North America’s small, entrepreneur-driven PV companies stand to emerge well-positioned globally following the resetting of credit markets in 18-24 months.”

The worst thing a company could do during these difficult times is “batten down the hatches,” as I hear so often. Instead, companies should be looking for ways to innovate and continue R&D so that when the recovery comes -- and yes it will come -- they will be in a strong competitive position. It is a time to find ways to more closely collaborate with customers and other companies to conduct R&D in the most cost-effective manner, improve efficiency and, of course, reduce costs.

More on the opportunities recessions present here and here.


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