A Summary of the Project
This is the final report on the CREATE project (Grant Agreement 211512) of FP7 under designation “AAT-2007-7-4: Stimulating radical technological changes”. This was initiated following an earlier path-finding, but limited, project called “Out of the Box”.
The CREATE project studied and tested all the steps necessary to take ideas for radical changes in air transport to actual research.
This is called the CREATE process.
It includes the mechanisms to encourage concepts and ideas to be put forward, providing assistance for their development and extension, allowing additional data and constructive views to be brought to their support and for the idea to be set out in a developed proposal for assessment for its suitability for research. The initial stage of research is called incubation.
Five mechanisms were addressed: Creative Workshops, an Innopedia web-based discussion process, Technology Watch to introduce new technological opportunities, the IDEA Portal to assist originators to use these facilities and to develop their ideas and the Assessment process for impartial review. Each of these is described in detail in the report.
The CREATE project set out to define, test by demonstration and refine each of the CREATE process components except that it was never the intention to carry out a trial of the incubation process given the cost and length of time that this would take. However, this apart, all the processes have been tested for their suitability for implementation and, where appropriate, the work needed to implement them has been defined. In two areas it is concluded that the processes examined should not be implemented with public funds, the establishment of the wikibased Innopedia and that of Technology Watch. In the area of incubation contracts no test has been carried out, nor was one intended in the project description. However, the preliminaries to such a contract and themanagement of it have been studied and are reported.
The CREATE process is concerned with innovation in aviation. It does not seek to address all kinds of innovation but a relatively narrow, important part of the whole. It does not displace any other routes to innovation but augments them.
It aims to stimulate novel changes to the aviation system with particular attention to those that are cross-sector, transformational in their implications, and concerned with the long-term future aviation system. ‘Innovation’ is a very broad topic and covers every kind of novel change from the smallest amendment to a business process up to the most radical, far-reaching, often technologically based application of a new idea. It is important, therefore that the boundaries of the CREATE process are understood.
The background to innovation in this Report briefly covers the historical pressures for change in aviation and explains how these pressures have changed and become more integrated in their application to the air transport system. The Report shows that the high benefit, high risk class of innovations described above as the focus for the CREATE process effectively has no mechanism by which they can be studied for potential use in the long term future. The reasons for this are explored and related to the current and future challenges that the air transport system will face. The need for a new mechanism is explained - one which will address this particular set of innovations and allow them to be studied and tested for validity as potential elements in a future air transport system.
Most novel ideas face hostility and it is no different, is perhaps even more accentuated, in this particular sub-set. Given the radical nature of some of the ideas it is likely that they would face premature and negative decisions. To overcome this the key process element is seen to be an “incubation” stage. This is comparable to a nursery for children; the child is allowed to grow in a protected environment, to acquire greater knowledge free of demands for performance. Eventually, of course, the child must meet the demands for performance, competition and choice but the period in the nursery equips them to meet these forces. Incubation as a concept is a parallel to this. It will provide a protected environment where the viability of an idea can be studied, expanded and developed to the stage where it can provide comparable credibility to established evolutionary ideas. In one respect, however, the incubation stage is unlike a nursery. If the work to develop the idea shows that it cannot work then the incubation should be stopped.
The report contains examples from the many (more than 130) aerospace ideas that have been put forward by workshop delegates and others and these accounts illustrate the range, relevance and scope of the possibilities they saw for the future. These ideas were not further explored but a limited number of them were used to test case some of the CREATE process elements. They are included to provoke the imagination of the reader.
Estimates of the cost of operating the total CREATE Process including incubation have also been compiled and are included in the report. The cost is remarkably small when set against the potential importance of the ideas that may emerge from it - only about €3.5 Millions per annum in total. Work on the early stages of an idea is not expensive and, in most cases, will not require any costly test items or facilities to be built. The majority of the work will be in developing comprehensive, multidimensional (economic, technical, operational, regulatory, environmental and social) models and describing each idea and its implications. This will, in most cases be sufficient to take the idea forward to TRL 1 or 2 and, if the idea still appears promising, allow technology development to be taken forward thereafter with confidence.
The CREATE Process is now defined using the parameters proposed in this report. It is clear from the work done in the CREATE project that a number of significant issues, not intended to be embraced by this project, need to be taken forward if the CREATE process is to be established as a stable, long-term mechanism that can satisfactorily address the gap in innovative progress that has been identified. The principal steps that need to be secured before this stability can be achieved are:
- Establishing the support and participation of the aviation stakeholders.
- Securing an enduring mechanism for funding the process.
If these can be addressed successfully then, along with the process development that has been the subject of the CREATE project, a stable process can be established as a longterm mechanism for providing, over time, a portfolio of innovative, important, and crosssector ideas which are needed with greater force and with greater speed as the challenges facing the world develop.