Like other industries in Nigeria, our analyst has previously noted that the Facilities Management industry cannot grow without constant radical and incremental innovation. This is highly imperative considering the current stage of the industry among others. Apart from the fact that constant innovation would change the face of the industry, making stakeholders to develop more interest in the ability and capability of the players to solve emerging frictions in critical and soft facilities management, it would enhance the industry’s place among other markets in Africa and Asia.
Therefore, both the players and professionals need to be creative and innovate ideas, concepts and products that will effectively deliver facility-related solutions. In our previous analysis, it was noted that employees at business, functional and corporate levels need to work together for innovation to happen. A clear innovation strategic plan must be developed. Innovation vision should be shared among the employees while the business owners and employees at the corporate level should exhibit a clear commitment to the cause.
When these happen, who should finance innovative ideas from the concept to developmental and expansion stages? This is the question this piece intends to answer briefly. Financing innovation is a mechanism that gives room for internal and external support. It also entails personal support or effort towards the successful innovation journey. In our experience, we have discovered that players in the industry can finance their innovation projects using internal and external approaches. Internal approach remains the most appropriate. The appropriateness is hinged on the fact that it gives players opportunity to capture absolute value from the outcomes of the innovation execution.
Using an internal approach means that both the employees and business owners must commit their financial resources to innovation projects. Financing innovation in the industry starts from when an employee or a group of employees [at functional and business levels] developed innovative ideas or concepts and spent their personal money on understanding the nucleus of the ideas or concepts before proposing it to employees at the corporate level. If the ideas or concepts are viable, there is a probability of getting corporate backing. This leads us to the second category of financing innovation.
However, the extent to which corporate financing can happen depend on the financial capacity of the business owners or investors. When it is obvious that the ideas or concepts cannot be financed internally, the needed fund is expected to be sought using external approach. With this approach, both the employees and business owners can discuss the ideas or concepts with a number of external stakeholders. For instance, grants, loans (including convertible debt), and equity investments can be explored. With the external approach, players would have the opportunity of establishing a strong interaction with the key stakeholders towards more recognition of the industry and what it means to the sustainability of public and private facilities.
These approaches must have been employed by Alpha Mead Group, which innovated Call2Fix [solving perennial friction of having dependable technicians for secure homes and workplaces maintenance], and FilmoRealty that launched its proptech products recently. The company developed Vamp Facilities Intelligence, a software makes planning and execution of facilities projects easier. This software is useful for immersive facilities management practices in a pandemic period suggested by our analyst previously.