Staying ahead of the curve: Rethinking Innovation at Domino Printing

Institute for Manufacturing
IfM Insights
Published in
8 min readDec 4, 2023


Industrial printing firm Domino Printing Sciences has been able to stay ahead of its competitors by rethinking its approach to innovation, using approaches and frameworks from the Institute of Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge.


· Domino disentangled innovation thinking from product development to align with rapid shifts in the business landscape more effectively. As a result, it has increased agility to respond to customer demands effectively.

· Domino successfully integrated IfM tools and approaches into its innovation mindset, leading to a transformative shift in its approach to innovation and technology.

· There is genuine excitement and effective collaboration across a range of new technology and innovation projects as a result of the project.

· Domino identified high-potential areas of innovation-led growth and the associated technologies and capabilities.

In this video, experts from Domino Printing Sciences and IfM Engage discuss the process they went through in re-thinking innovation and some of the benefits they are seeing as a result.


Rapid technological advancements are ushering in a fresh era for commercial and industrial printing. The combination of AI, automation, and inventive materials is transforming how things operate in these domains and compelling businesses to lead the way in innovation.

To keep up with the fast pace of changes and withstand resulting market disruptions, Domino Printing Sciences, a global expert in variable data printing, sought the expertise of IfM Engage, the knowledge transfer arm of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM).

Specialising in digital printing and traceability solutions for sectors as diverse as food, beverage, life sciences, packaging, cleaning, personal care, building and construction, Domino operates in over 120 countries. The company employs over 3,000 people and has manufacturing facilities in the UK, US, China, Germany, India, Sweden, and Switzerland. Domino technology prints onto everyday products using a family of industrial markers, including continuous inkjet, laser, thermal transfer overprinting, thermal inkjet, print and apply labellers and case coders.

To provide products and services that align with customer needs, Domino aimed to transition from a short-term innovation approach to revaluating its entire innovation strategy.

“To remain competitive, we knew we needed to enhance our innovation capabilities, leveraging emerging technologies that may transform our approach to delivering value to customers in the future,” says Andy Clifton, Chief Technical Officer at Domino.

“Our R&D generally focussed on product development, so our focus was often constrained by short-term thinking and incremental innovations.

“We needed help to move away from a short-term incremental innovation model and challenge our thinking in how we view innovation as an organisation. IfM Engage were the perfect fit to help us review our capabilities and rethink how we do things.”

“We needed help to move away from a short-term incremental innovation model and challenge our thinking in how we view innovation as an organisation. IfM Engage were the perfect fit to help us review our capabilities and rethink how we do things.” Andy Clifton, Chief Technical Officer, Domino.

Through a series of workshops, including ecosystem mapping and roadmapping, the team at Domino reimagined their approach to technology and innovation.


From 2020 to 2022, Domino utilised the IfM Engage Innovation ReThink, a collection of IfM tools and approaches that aid organisations in reimagining their innovation strategy.

To kick off the process, IfM Engage facilitated a comprehensive assessment of Domino’s innovation system, building a picture of its current capabilities, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement and prompting the company to identify crucial aspects aligned with its business goals. To do this, it used the well-established Innovation Management Diagnostic tool.

Andy explains how the IfM’s TIM Diagnostic process shone a light on a key area of change: “Innovation doesn’t happen by chance, and so by reviewing our innovation system carefully, we were able to think about the aspects that are important to us as a business and reflect on where we were strong, and where we needed to focus on and improve.

“The IfM’s TIM Diagnostic process helped us move from a focus on product innovation to a focus on capability development and the impact this has on our innovation system.”

The project then focused on strategy to configure areas of high potential innovation and value that would deliver growth. In workshops involving employees from across the world, IfM approaches, including ecosystem-mapping and roadmapping were used to challenge management thinking.

IfM Engage Industrial Associate, Rob Munro, who led the project with Domino, says: “These approaches are essential for any company as you need to understand strategy before you get into technology. After using ecosystem mapping and strategic roadmapping to identify attractive areas of growth, we used IfM’s make vs. buy and technology acquisition tools to identify the approach to technologies and strategic workforce planning for future capabilities.

“Innovation fitness means doing things differently. We had to help everyone to map out the changes they were making and make sure those changes became a natural part of how the organisation works.”

Rob Munro, Industrial Associate with IfM Engage, facilitated a series of workshops using IfM approaches to identify opportunities for improvement in Domino’s innovation system.


1. More responsive to market demands

A key outcome of working alongside IfM Engage has been that Domino has effectively disentangled innovation thinking from product development, adapting its work methodology to synchronise with the rapid shifts in the business landscape. As a result, Domino has gained the agility to respond to customer demands effectively.

“We have carefully considered the necessary skills and abilities to foster innovation and agility, and we are currently undertaking projects that reflect these values,” Andy Clifton, Chief Technical Officer, Domino.

“We have achieved a significant result by separating innovation thinking from product development, which is crucial for staying competitive in the rapidly evolving business environment,” says Andy. “We have carefully considered the necessary skills and abilities to foster innovation and agility, and we are currently undertaking projects that reflect these values.

Eleanor Betton, Print Performance Manager at Domino, explains that the process helped teams gain a broader perspective on what R&D means to Domino: “I was able to step outside of the day-to-day focus on product development and gain a wider appreciation of how capabilities and skills contribute to the products of the future.”

Shifting the focus towards capabilities instead of just products, Domino was also able to focus on cultivating the skills, capabilities, and adaptive approaches within its innovation system explains Paul Clarke, Portfolio Director, Domino.

“It was really valuable to look at opportunities from various angles. We challenged our thinking as an organisation by bringing in views and expertise from Domino and our partners, the ecosystem and the market. And bringing in academic experts from the IfM helped to enrich conversations and made sure we were answering the right questions.”

“We have reframed what innovation means to all of us across the organisation — moving from a focus on product innovation to capability changes is quite a shift,” says Paul. “We are already working to build and develop the right capabilities, and you can start to see threads of ideas and collaborations that could be the foundation of responding to new market requirements in the future. I’m really glad we found the time for this, as it’s already had a transformative impact.”

2. Excitement, collaboration and alignment on new technology projects

One key factor in the project’s success was Domino’s willingness to integrate knowledge and skills from various departments that typically operate independently. This approach helped to break down siloed thinking and foster teamwork, ultimately driving innovation. The company achieved this by convening workshops that brought together employees from different departments, with everyone’s contributions valued and acknowledged.

“I’ve observed a surge of enthusiasm among the team regarding innovation in Domino. We all share a common vision and goal which propels us forward. Our focus has shifted towards a more long-term strategy centred around technology and the necessary expertise to meet market demands. As a result, we are exploring and familiarising ourselves with numerous new and intriguing technologies and concepts.,” says Natasha Jeremic, Inkjet Development Manager, Domino.

Eleanor Bretton also highlights the process’s value in widening her connections across the organisation: “I have stayed in touch with many of the people I met during the workshops, collaborating with colleagues across commercial, product management, as well as other teams within R&D. Many opportunities have arisen which have allowed us to gain momentum and excitement for our prioritised projects.”

3. Integrating IfM approaches

Make-vs-buy decisions are an integral part of an effective innovation strategy, and there are many factors to consider when choosing between developing technologies and capabilities in-house versus working with external partners and suppliers.

In one of the workshops, Domino utilised the IfM Technology Acquisitions framework to better identify the types of organisations it should partner with to obtain specific capabilities or expertise. By working through a series of important questions, Domino understood which suppliers would best meet their procurement requirements.

“Having a structured framework like this instils confidence in crucial partnership decisions and aids in performing due diligence to avoid costly errors,” says Natasha Jeremic. “We have already used it to guide our choices, helping us to consider due diligence in terms of who to partner with so you find companies that are a good fit across a range of factors, not just cost.”

“IfM tools and approaches have enabled Domino to transition from focusing solely on product-related innovations, which involve small improvements, to enhancing overall innovation capabilities involving aspects like the organisation’s structure, technology, and people,” says Rob Munro.

“This shift to a more comprehensive approach will enable Domino to be more adaptable and responsive to market demands and changes. Consequently, the company is empowered to think openly and channel their diverse viewpoints and innovative ideas at a broader organisational level.”

Natasha Jeremic, Inkjet Development Manager, Domino, highlighted that the IfM’s Technology Acquisitions Framework helps to instil confidence in crucial partnership decisions.


By adapting its work methodologies to keep up with the fast pace of changes in the business environment, Domino is enhancing its capability to anticipate and effectively address customer demands.

“Domino has been through a robust process, so is in a position where it can be confident the investment decisions it makes are aligned with their business and innovation strategy,” says Rob Munro.

“Outcomes will be new sources of growth and protecting critical markets from disruption and attack. Domino has been a great partner to work with. I’ve been impressed by the openness and excitement across the organisation to new ideas in how to restructure the organisation’s innovation system.”

“IfM Engage has been a great partner for this project. They have challenged how we think about innovation as an organisation and have done it in a way that has brought genuine excitement towards these new approaches,” says Andy Clifton.

“We have reframed what innovation means to all of us across the organisation — moving from a focus on product innovation to capability changes is quite a shift. We’re already seeing some of the benefits of the new approach, with seeds of ideas emerging, and I’m excited to see how this progresses in the future,” he concluded.

IfM Engage has worked with hundreds of organisations worldwide to transform their technology and innovation agility. To find out who you can rethink innovation in your organisation with IfM Engage.

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