Innovation in lightweight gear runs into a basic fact; there are two ways to reduce an item's weight.
1) use less material in the item's construction.
2) use lighter materials.
There are no other ways to do it. So once you simplify and reduce the size of an item as far as possible (thus reducing the amount of material) and use the lightest material available that will do the job, you can't go any further until a new, lighter material is developed. And in the ultralite gear world, that means waiting for some other industry to come up with that lightweight material, since our market is so small that it doesn't pay to develop materials just for it - we have to adapt stuff that is created for other uses. Thus, the lightest canister stoves hover around 1.5 ounces for now because you just can't remove any more material without compromising the utility of the stove. Maybe you could get under an ounce if cost was no object and elusive alloys were utilised, but that pushes the cost up to where it won't sell.
So innovative design mostly happens in that area somewhat above the lightest weight end of the spectrum, where there is still room for "features" (and features always add weight). To get into SUL and XSUL base weights you basically forgo features and minimalism controls the design. When you are carrying a total packweight of 15 lbs, with food and water and everything, your pack can be a stuffsack with straps and still work fine, so that's what the SUL packs tend towards, and there's no room for innovation in a Cuben stuffsack with straps - any innovation you make adds weight. But a little further up the spectrum there is room in the weight budget for pockets and other conveniences, and the need for appropriate suspension design, and so innovation can happen, but it is always restrained by the two basic weight reduction constraints.
Innovation can also be using a material that nobody else has yet used for that particular purpose, and that generally involves increased cost - as with Cuben and titanium taking the place of nylon and aluminum.
It seems like there is a lot of hope that some new design for a tent will magically be lighter while using the same materials, but it just doesn't happen. We don't have lighter tents today because of innovative design so much as because of lighter materials and in some cases simply smaller size.
With all of that said I do think there is room for improvement in some of the gear that is available, which is why I still make some of my own gear. I make my own packs because I think mine are better for my use than what I can buy. But I wouldn't make my own tent for 3-season use since I know I can't do any better than Henry Shires does or a few others. I might make my own spring snow-camping shelter because I don't see what I need on the market - not surprising for a niche so tiny.
And that is truly the key here - size of market. When the market is truly tiny and product development is expensive, that's when you don't see innovation because it doesn't pay. Ultralight gear hovers on the edge of that equation.
I realize I'm veering into rant territory here, but basically I wanted to point out that if we want to foster innovation we had better be clear on the factors that affect it and constrain it so that we can at least attempt to push where the pushing will be effective.