The R&D Ripple Effect

ripple effect on top of water | Innovators Central

Tossing a heavy stone in a still pond causes elegant ripple effects that can reach the far shore of the water. It’s exciting to watch ripples proceed on a path, disrupting the stillness and expanding outward. And depending on the size of the stone, those ripples can affect the pond in many ways.

R&D has the same effect on business and innovation. From large boulders in major corporations to small pebbles in an SME, every R&D project is its own stone. Its impact can ripple into innovation and culture for the “pond” that business exists in.

How R&D Ripples Affect Future Innovation

R&D ripples can affect companies in many ways that impact innovation. These include:

Acting as Steppingstones

A seemingly unsolvable problem sometimes holds back innovation. An R&D success can help provide an A&B solution. By creating a solution to one problem with a successful R&D project, the step to a destination once thought of as unattainable is now achievable.

Colliding with Other Projects

There are often multiple development projects going on at the same time. It’s like throwing two stones into the same still pond and having the ripples overlap and collide. Data sets, research, and trials from one project are often interchangeable with others and may speed up or lead to a new solution.

Riding the Wave of Necessity

Occasionally, R&D doesn’t cause ripples that spur innovation. Instead, necessity stimulates the R&D that leads to it. Covid-19 triggered many R&D projects for companies to redirect core products and services or to survive. In these cases, disruption caused the ripple, and R&D rode the waves to innovation.


Studies have shown that funding for specific biomedical research led to new projects beyond the original scope. The ripple of the project was so strong it led to additional discoveries, compounding the impact and ROI of the initial project investment.

Playing in a New Pond

Successful product development can open new doors, leading to bigger ponds and markets. For example, hand sanitizer was considered “nice to have” pre-Covid, and it’s now considered a “must-have.” That necessity not only ramped up the volume of the product; it also generated new ways to package it and get it into consumers’ hands.

Positive Effects Within Companies

R&D ripples impact internal operations as well. Underneath every stone dropped into the still pond is a mix of currents created from the stone’s fall. These currents are akin to the culture and staff activity in a company. When a big project is successful, these currents can move staff to innovate further.

Of course, the most significant impact of a successful R&D project is its ability to generate products and services that sell. This success has a two-fold effect. It makes leaders more confident in funding and driving future products and, therefore, future innovation. It also enables growth and perhaps greater expenditure roadmaps for future projects.

R&D also enhances brand reputation. When a company is known for innovative products and services resulting in high ROI, paths to funding become much less complicated.

Accessing R&D Support

Companies that innovate have a greater chance of long-term success. The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College offers mentorship, entrepreneurship, R&D, and business innovation training and networking opportunities.

With our programs, new business leaders can learn to navigate the ponds of their industry and make a big splash with confidence.

Check out our blog to learn more about how innovation and R&D are key to any company’s success.

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