Undertaking innovation should be an investment: the process and act of innovation is dedicating resources, time, decision-making, and leadership attention towards trying something different in the hope of achieving a better outcome. Yet innovation is an uncertain investment. A portfolio offers the chance to spread risk across a range of investments. A portfolio approach is highly relevant for innovation. By investing in several innovations, the chances of getting a desired or useful result are increased.

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Portfolio of interventions

A diverse portfolio reduces the risk involved and provides a richer set of potential returns. By having a range of investments across the different facets of innovation activity there is a much greater likelihood of a payoff. Although it means that innovation needs a coordinated view, as a single actor is not going to be able to undertake a very diverse portfolio of public sector innovation. It is too hard for most to run lots of different innovations at once, especially in a public sector context.

A portfolio approach is therefore something that needs to be viewed from the wider perspective of multiple organisations or even across an entire sector or system – like our innovation hub.