The Imperative for Business Model Innovation: A Research and Practice Perspective

This White Paper provides the opportunity for consultation and debate regarding the challenges and
opportunities presented by the unifying concept of the ‘business model’. The information presented has been synthesised from academic research and the perspectives of practitioners. Specifically, the paper draws together salient issues raised at the Business Model Innovation Workshop held at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), University of Cambridge, 1–2 June 2015. The workshop was co-hosted by IfM and the Centre for Innovation and Service Research (ISR) at the University of Exeter Business School and forms part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Seminar Series on Business Models involving the following: University of the West of England, University of Exeter, Aston University, Lancaster University, Warwick University, Strathclyde University, and Reading University (Henley). The series has also received support from the British Academy of Management, The British Library and NEMODE.
While the antecedents of the business model concept originated in established academic disciplines, its rise to prominence took place relatively recently. This prominence as a concept was fuelled by digital innovation and the Internet, and its potential as a unifying mechanism presents significant opportunities for competitive development in both research and practice. To realise the innovation potential from a focus on business models and business modelling, significant challenges, such as entrenched organisational and behavioural norms, need to be addressed. This White Paper surfaces these opportunities and challenges and provides a point of departure for intellectual debate. Specifically, it identifies these opportunities and challenges from multiple perspectives and offers a set of recommendations for academia, business, funding councils, and government.
The synopsis of these is presented in this executive summary and discussed in more depth in the course of the paper.

Chander Velu (Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge)
Andi Smart (University of Exeter Business School)
Mark Phillips (Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge)