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Sustainable product innovation: the importance of the front-end stage in the innovation process

Kristel Dewulf (UGent)
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Abstract
The very early phase in the product innovation process, the so-called front-end of innova‐ tion (FEI), is the stage of the innovation process where product strategy formulation, oppor‐ tunity identification, idea generation, idea selection and concept development take place and decisions about new product development are taken [1]. These first phases in the engi‐ neering design process have the largest impact on the end result of the project [1, 2] and the highest payback to one’s investments [1]. Accordingly, the front-end of innovation is often described as being the root of success for any company hoping to compete on the basis of innovation [2]. Notwithstanding the logic behind integrating sustainability in the early stages of an innova‐ tion process, in practice it is flawed. Front-end innovation is a hot research topic, but there is still little research done on its relationship to design for sustainability. This book chapter addresses the existing knowledge in the field of sustainable product innovation and its relation to the front-end of new product development. The research in this chapter aims to contribute to the understanding and implementing of sustainability in the early stages of an innovation process. A short overview of the used research method is pre‐ sented in the first part. Secondly, the concept of the front-end of new product development is introduced by its different definitions. The section also describes the importance of the FEI, different types of innovation processes and the functions, activities and characteristics of the Front End. The third part looks to the concept of Sustainable Product Innovation (SPI) together with its drivers and barriers. Furthermore, it reflects on the current practice of the use of Sustainable Product Innovation tools. Next, the importance of integrating environ‐ mental considerations in the Front-End stage is presented. Different research results, in‐ sights and challenges are discussed in the penultimate part order to identify successful patterns. At the end of this chapter, a summary is presented.
Keywords
Sustainable Innovation, Innovation Management, Front End Innovation, Green Design

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MLA
Dewulf, Kristel. “Sustainable Product Innovation: The Importance of the Front-end Stage in the Innovation Process.” Advances in Industrial Design Engineering. Ed. Denis A Coelho. Manhattan, New York, USA: InTech, 2013. 139–166. Print.
APA
Dewulf, K. (2013). Sustainable product innovation: the importance of the front-end stage in the innovation process. In D. A. Coelho (Ed.), Advances in industrial design engineering (pp. 139–166). Manhattan, New York, USA: InTech.
Chicago author-date
Dewulf, Kristel. 2013. “Sustainable Product Innovation: The Importance of the Front-end Stage in the Innovation Process.” In Advances in Industrial Design Engineering, ed. Denis A Coelho, 139–166. Manhattan, New York, USA: InTech.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Dewulf, Kristel. 2013. “Sustainable Product Innovation: The Importance of the Front-end Stage in the Innovation Process.” In Advances in Industrial Design Engineering, ed. Denis A Coelho, 139–166. Manhattan, New York, USA: InTech.
Vancouver
1.
Dewulf K. Sustainable product innovation: the importance of the front-end stage in the innovation process. In: Coelho DA, editor. Advances in industrial design engineering. Manhattan, New York, USA: InTech; 2013. p. 139–66.
IEEE
[1]
K. Dewulf, “Sustainable product innovation: the importance of the front-end stage in the innovation process,” in Advances in industrial design engineering, D. A. Coelho, Ed. Manhattan, New York, USA: InTech, 2013, pp. 139–166.
@incollection{4236259,
  abstract     = {The very early phase in the product innovation process, the so-called front-end of innova‐ tion (FEI), is the stage of the innovation process where product strategy formulation, oppor‐ tunity identification, idea generation, idea selection and concept development take place and decisions about new product development are taken [1]. These first phases in the engi‐ neering design process have the largest impact on the end result of the project [1, 2] and the highest payback to one’s investments [1]. Accordingly, the front-end of innovation is often described as being the root of success for any company hoping to compete on the basis of innovation [2]. Notwithstanding the logic behind integrating sustainability in the early stages of an innova‐ tion process, in practice it is flawed. Front-end innovation is a hot research topic, but there is still little research done on its relationship to design for sustainability. This book chapter addresses the existing knowledge in the field of sustainable product innovation and its relation to the front-end of new product development. The research in this chapter aims to contribute to the understanding and implementing of sustainability in the early stages of an innovation process. A short overview of the used research method is pre‐ sented in the first part. Secondly, the concept of the front-end of new product development is introduced by its different definitions. The section also describes the importance of the FEI, different types of innovation processes and the functions, activities and characteristics of the Front End. The third part looks to the concept of Sustainable Product Innovation (SPI) together with its drivers and barriers. Furthermore, it reflects on the current practice of the use of Sustainable Product Innovation tools. Next, the importance of integrating environ‐ mental considerations in the Front-End stage is presented. Different research results, in‐ sights and challenges are discussed in the penultimate part order to identify successful patterns. At the end of this chapter, a summary is presented.},
  author       = {Dewulf, Kristel},
  booktitle    = {Advances in industrial design engineering},
  editor       = {Coelho, Denis A},
  isbn         = {9789535110163},
  keywords     = {Sustainable Innovation,Innovation Management,Front End Innovation,Green Design},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {139--166},
  publisher    = {InTech},
  title        = {Sustainable product innovation: the importance of the front-end stage in the innovation process},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/52461},
  year         = {2013},
}

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