• University of Leeds

Innovation: The Key to Business Success

Understand commercial innovation, how ideas emerge and become reality, with this free online course developed with Marks & Spencer

32,750 enrolled on this course

Innovation: The Key to Business Success
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study4 hours
  • CertificatesAvailable
  • AccreditationAvailableMore info

This short free online course, which benefits from CPD accreditation, is designed for anyone interested in commercial innovation.

Whether you run your own business or are a cog in a bigger wheel, work on your own or are part of a large multinational organisation, this course will help you see how you can be an agent for change and help push forward innovation.

Learn how innovative ideas emerge and become reality

You will see that very few innovative ideas are new; the vast majority take something that is already working and improve it. This may be a product, service or process. Those who are closest to the business often have the most innovative ideas.

At the end of the course you will have a better understanding of:

  • how to encourage and contribute to innovation in your business;
  • how to turn ideas into reality (for the benefit of the business);
  • the role of people in successful innovation.

Explore case studies from major high street retailer, Marks & Spencer

Using case studies from the University of Leeds and major high street retailer, Marks & Spencer, we connect theory and practice to demonstrate the importance of innovation in growing and sustaining a business.

You will explore a range of important innovations, including the introduction of chilled foods and the development of man-made fibres. You will look at how ideas emerge and develop, and their impact not only on the business, but on how we live our lives today.

Through the course you will see that innovation can take many forms and that innovation needs people and organisations with a willingness to embrace change, to wonder “‘what if’,” to challenge the status quo and most importantly to work together.

Successful innovations need both determined individuals and a collaborative approach. Join this course to start your journey of innovation.

What other learners say

Here is a small selection of comments from learners who took part in previous runs of this course:

“This has been a fascinating and engaging course…interactive, great content, interesting presentation of information….well done to all involved.”

“Thank you for a wonderful and thought provoking course that has made me look at my own business in a new light.”

“Thank you for a well laid out journey of innovation discovery. This course has helped me improve my knowledge and more importantly how I can apply this in my day to day work environment.”

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What topics will you cover?

  • Types and levels of innovation, and how they play an important part in defining business success.
  • Case study of incremental innovation: the development of clothing at M&S from the 1950s to the present day.
  • Case studies: radical innovations which provide clear benefits, but have the potential to be disruptive innovations.
  • Drivers for innovation and the challenges faced by using innovation to sustain or move a business forward.
  • Case study: the challenges M&S faced in the cold chain process and the drivers for moving from frozen to chilled food.
  • The wicked problem of food waste: an international challenge.
  • The importance of open innovation.
  • Case study: the role of collaboration and engagement in the successful implementation of the ‘iconic’ M&S suit.
  • People as inspiration: achieving success by engaging with those who will adopt the innovation.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

This course has been accredited by the CPD Certification Service, which means it can be used to provide evidence of your continuing professional development.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on a personal idea for innovation.
  • Reflect on the term ‘innovation’, and identify how it is interpreted in business and within a wider context.
  • Compare the different types and levels of innovation and identify examples of each.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the key concepts, challenges and risks associated with innovation.
  • Explore the drivers for and challenges of innovation by investigating the cold chain process at M&S.
  • Explore the challenges to innovation, in particular the challenge of a ‘wicked’ problem.
  • Reflect on the challenges of a serial inventor and identify sources of motivation behind developing innovative products.
  • Develop an innovative idea or solution to the wicked problem using clothing waste as an example.
  • Reflect on a chosen ‘greatest innovation’ and identify key attributes which contributed to its adoption.
  • Investigate the importance of collaboration in the innovation process.
  • Explore how collaboration helps to develop an innovative product – the M&S ‘iconic’ suit.
  • Record your understanding of key topics related to innovation through quizzes and tests.

Who is the course for?

No previous knowledge or experience of business or innovation is required just an interest in innovations and how they emerge. You may be a student, running your own business or working within a small company or multinational organisation. The course is designed to be flexible so you can study at a time convenient to you.

Who will you learn with?

Hi, I'm a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Univesity of Leeds. My areas of interest are based around the subject of design. Key areas are innovation, creativity and employability.

Who developed the course?

University of Leeds

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.


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Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript


Statement of Participation