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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Disruptive Innovation from India: The Tata Nano

version: 1 / created: 2010-08-10
id: #968 / version id: #968
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Vanessa Watkins
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Last changed by: Vanessa Watkins
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 8 - Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Blue Sky Research on emerging issues and other research economies

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)
Source: INFU (225229) - http://www.innovation-futures.org/ http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/699/429452/text/ http://die-innovationsmaschine.de/?p=88

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Disruptive Innovation from India: The Tata Nano

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
In January 2007 Tata Motors, India´s largest company in the automobile and commercial vehicle sector, launched a four-seater car with a purchasing price of around 1440 Euro. The Tata Nano is now the world’s cheapest car. Automotive suppliers are, amongst others, the German companies Bosch, Continental and BASF. In order to achieve this very low price, Tata Motors reduced the production costs by radically decreasing the car’s performance and focusing on a strictly low-cost-design. Since 90% of future growth in the car sector will take place in emerging and developing regions Tata is now in a “pole position” to conquer a major future growth market: low-price cars.


Disruptive innovation, emerging countries, Tata motors, automotives, low-price innovation

Signal's first apperance


Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Change in current innovation patterns new/emerging

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

Traditionally, disruptive technological innovations have been developed by international corporations with their origin in Western industrial nations. This Weak Signal is a prominent example for a possible change in this current innovation pattern, especially when it comes to innovations serving emerging markets and people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.


please specify
please select
Level 4: important for the whole world

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

cultural/religious filters (values, traditions, faith, spiritual beliefs)

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Social As an India-based company, Tata has specific knowledge of local needs and the willingness to develop innovative and creative solutions, which fit the requirements of people with low income. Western companies so far have refused to develop a low-cost model even though they have the necessary abilities.
Technological/Scientific Tata´s Nano is composed out of several well-known technological solutions, such as the usage of plastic instead of metal, identical and modular components and is supplying a share of up to 40% of the car’s components via internet auctions. All together these factors could constitute a successful innovation strategy, which is worth to be imitated by more companies from other emerging countries.
Economic The main driver is considered to be the target group of the Tata Nano and it’s vast market potential. The target group is mainly composed of motorcyclists, moped riders and drivers of three-wheelers in India and other emerging countries with low spending power. Since the price of the Tata Nano is only two times higher than the price for a conventional Indian motorcycle, many people can now afford themselves a safe and comfort vehicle possessing fo ur wheels. Extremely low labour costs in India and the already mentioned cultural factors constitute favourable framework for international automobile corporations to outsource R & D tasks relating to low-price vehicles to departments located in India.

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 Risky for corporations in industrialised countries Strong opportunity for corporations in emering countries

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Economic prosperity/dynamics
Globalization vs. localization

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Transport (including aeronautics)

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Developing and funding world-class research infrastructures
Strengthening research institutions and universities