Identification and Adoption of Disruptive Technologies – Perspectives of UK-Based Industry Major vs. Venture Capitalists

  • Dr. Danu Suwatchara Mahidol University, Thailand
  • Michael J. Axelgaard General Partner, AI Seed, UK
  • Brendan R. Wilmot Start-up Execution Lead, BP, UK
  • Yaa Serwaah Amoah Kwateng PhD. Candidate, Imperial College, UK
Keywords: Disruptive Technology, Disruptive Innovation, Technology Assessment, Innovation, Success Factor


Since its conception in 1995, the theory of disruptive technology has been well established. Large firms around the globe are becoming increasingly active in assessing emerging technologies with the goal of adopting disruptive ones before smaller, more agile firms, commercialize them. While there is a surge in the number of academic studies performing ex ante assessments of emerging technologies, most of these are conducted with outside-in perspectives. This study aims to elucidate processes and perspectives used by technology firms as they try to catch the next wave. Surveys were conducted among two groups of UK-based respondents: (1) personnel of a high-tech industry major and (2) venture capitalists. Findings reveal substantial difference in practices among the two groups.  Assessments performed by the industry major, representing the “large firm” mind-set, entail rigid processes and monumental amount of documentation, while those conducted at venture capitalist firms, representing the “small firm” mind-set, are less formal and unstandardized within the same firm. In terms of perspectives, it is found that all participants lack clarity as they make judgement to differentiate between disruptive vs. sustaining technologies. The scope of what is considered to be the top market success drivers of disruptive technologies also varies substantially between the two groups, with striking degree of consistency among the same group.