The Structured Innovation (SI) module comprises innovation methodologies that can enhance concept creation and selection in ocean energy systems (including subsystems, energy capture devices and arrays), enabling a structured approach to address complex ocean energy engineering challenges where design options are numerous. Thus it can facilitate efficient evolution from concept to commercialisation.

For a sector such as ocean energy, where the number of design options is still very high, the SI module can help users understand the complexity and interdependencies of the engineering challenge – resulting in a more efficient evolution from concept to commercialisation. To achieve these benefits, the SI module is provided as two components:

  1. The Quality Function Deployment (QFD) methodology defines the innovation problem and identifies trade-offs in the system. This is combined with the Theory of inventive problem solving (TRIZ), a systematic inventive problem-solving methodology, to generate potential solutions to the often-contradictory requirements raised from the QFD. The output from the integrated QFD/TRIZ component comprises design requirements along with target engineering metrics.

  2. The Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) assesses the technical risks associated with the proposed design concepts. The FMEA component’s output comprises a ranked set of failure modes per design requirement and identifies where mitigation actions are required to reduce the assessed risk.

The SI module can be used either as a standalone tool or within the DTOceanPlus design modules framework. It offers two main purposes for new concepts – to estimate costs and performance at an early stage in the concept creation/design process – and design improvements – to allow for a more detailed assessment of innovation within an existing device/project development path.


This documentation is divided into four main sections:


The Structured Innovation module has six major functionalities:

  1. Defining objectives of the study: This stage captures the project objectives and the list of the stakeholder needs (WHATs) broadly defined. In the context of developing a new product, this is a list of customer requirements. These requirements – often general, vague, and difficult to implement directly – are prioritised in order of importance.

  2. Scanning the design space: The SI module’s QFD/TRIZ component is used for two purposes. Firstly, to scan the design space by mapping options for each of the key parameters which make up ocean energy concepts or projects, then ranking the attractiveness of these options through high level physical and economic assessments. Secondly, to define the innovation problem space representing the customer’s voice and make an immediate objective assessment of the best solutions that fit the users’ requirements.

    1. Definition of functional requirements: This is when the customer needs are translated into measurable functional requirements (HOWs) that can satisfy the needs.

    2. Definition of Impacts: In this stage, the relationships between the stakeholder needs (WHATs) and the functional requirements (HOWs) are determined using a predefined scale. Many of the HOWs identified affect more than one WHAT.

    3. Requirement interactions: This establishes the interdependencies between functional requirements (HOWs). The purpose is to identify areas where trade-off decisions, conflicts, and innovation may be required.

  3. Identifying attractive areas of innovation: The SI module is developed to include fundamental relationships between key parameters in ocean energy concepts, evidence from the first ocean energy arrays, and a standard library of problem solution inter-relationships. QFD uses a set of requirements (WHATs) and answers them with a set of functional requirements (HOWs). There will be various solutions to solve each requirement, with each solution aims to produce the best requirement improvement. These solutions may contradict each other, and the QFD/TRIZ methodology allows these contradictions to be identified and their impact assessed.

    The possible concepts will be ranked in order of importance and achievability, highlighting options that would attract attractive investment opportunities. Evaluation of these options will be based on high-level metrics.

  4. Assessing contradictions: The TRIZ component of the SI module is used to produce solutions to the QFD requirements where an improvement is needed, or if there is no existing solution, or if the key performance indicators are not satisfactorily met. The TRIZ methodology can ensure completeness in the key parameters that define the design space using the Effects Database and in the series of provocative prompts to provide the well-known forty inventive principles and other modules to solve contradictions contained within the QFD. The QFD and TRIZ components are integrated into a single component within the SI module to visualise opportunity and risk areas.

  5. Assessing technical risk: Technical risks are framed using the ‘concept’ or ‘design’ FMEA component. The component provides ratings for each defect or failure in terms of severity, occurrence, and detection. The FMEA uses a database of validated defect parameters to improve understanding of technical risk during the design assessment process and offer both risk mitigation and cost reduction opportunities. The structured innovation process will conclude with a visualisation method to represent the process and results obtained and deviation from the SI module’s key performance metrics. The results will be expressed in terms of a ranking of attractive options and a presentation of the QFD requirements. The overall result will be an acceptability rating that allows objective assessments of the design.

  6. Reporting outputs: This generates a summary page of all the outputs, including a list of proposed innovative functions, metrics, conflicts and interrelationships, and impact. This can be in report format or as a set of data files for further analysis and future updates.