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Technological innovations can be divided into two types. 'Incremental' innovation is the development of existing technologies, and dominates industrial R&D. 'Radical' innovation is more difficult to manage and evaluate because the uncertainties are much higher, preventing the quantification of likely impacts and success rates. However, radical innovations are at the core of many research programmes in the public sector, and their financial consequences can be enormous. Therefore, effective techniques are needed for their management, not based on conventional methods such as cost-benefit analysis.
The objective of PROTEE was to develop and test a new methodology for the management and evaluation of (transport) projects involving radical or break-through innovations.
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
The core idea behind PROTEE is to consider a project as an exploration of alternative possible outcomes. Whereas most other evaluation methods try to gain as much information as possible on these outcomes, PROTEE ranks projects by the quality of this exploration itself.
Therefore, PROTEE has developed a methodology and indicators to structure the learning process within a project, to develop a 'radical' innovation. This is based on facilitating the relationship between the project leader (an innovator with a close knowledge of the technology, its potential and its problems) and the external decision-maker or sponsor (an evaluator knowing little about the project but who is experienced in evaluating projects and knows the generic risks). It requires the innovator and evaluator to enter into a learning pact, periodically meeting to evaluate the project's progress along an uncertain exploration path. This relationship covers the early phase of the project before it is abandoned or matures to the point where more traditional project management methods can be used.
The methodology is based on lessons drawn from many case studies in the field of intermodal transport, as well as more fundamental insights into the innovation process. It establishes a paper trail that progressively builds up a description of the project as learning proceeds, according to defined indicators. These indicators are based on key factors that influence the probability of failure of an innovation. The paper trail allows the innovator and evaluator to assess the 'quality' of the learning curve of the innovation, and thereby decide whether or not to continue the exploration.
The methodology has been tested on several completed and ongoing projects involving freight transfer centres and the automated handling of freight. Its principles and know-how have been captured in a preliminary electronic user manual.
PROTEE provides an alternative way of structuring the dialogue between project managers and evaluators concerning radical and risky innovations. The most important practical outcome of PROTEE is the procedure for organising evaluation meetings and documenting a project, which is rather different from the conventional requirements for technical work plans and progress reports. It involves an innovator and an evaluator in defining and re-defining their own descriptions of the project, with the risks made explicit, and working together towards a consensus description.
protee.pdf (234 Kb)
Mr M Duret
Technicatome S.A. Centre d'Etudes de Saclay
91192 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex
TRIP is funded by the European Commission's Directorate General for Mobility and Transport under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7).