How Innovation Happens
Monday, June 4, 2012
Last month, BCIC was asked to collaborate with TRIUMF - Canada's national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics research and related sciences - on an editorial on the theme of "How Innovation Happens" for a Mediaplanet report on BC Innovation. The report was featured in the Vancouver Sun on May 30, 2012.
The report highlights how and why "Brain power, young talent, internationally-renowned academic institutions, government support and
Below is the insert by BCIC and TRIUMF (note that not all of the below was included in the report):
HOW INNOVATION HAPPENS
What makes an idea a good one? How do you turn it into realwaveity? And most importantly - how do you ensure success in the marketplace?
There are two answers to these questions. The first is a rebuttal: if the answer were simple and reproducible, then we wouldn't need to ask the question! The second answer is more subtle: good ideas, like any organism, need nurturing to reach their full potential. In the case of moving from innovation to commercialization, nurturing can take the form of mentorship, funding, training and networking, just to name a few.
Sure, inspiration can happen in the shower or while chopping vegetables, but it gets legs and becomes unstoppable when it's exposed to other great minds - that can carry it forward. .
Albert Einstein put it best, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
The most reliable route to changing our thinking from that which ‘created' or ‘saw' the problem to that which can offer a reliable, robust solution (e.g., a business) is to involve different thinkers: people with different backgrounds, training, tools and experiences. In the case of technology, ideas are often bred by a scientist or an engineer with little or no business acumen necessary to start a company. It is the collaboration or combination of complementary skills, i.e., technical and business, that are often needed to get a startup off the ground.
How do we foster more of this collaborative spirit in British Columbia? Through the creation and utilization of an ecosystem, or network, that helps create successful companies. Here in BC, the BC Innovation Council (BCIC) accelerates the commercialization of technology through supporting startups and the development of entrepreneurs. BCIC does this by developing programs and providing support for initiatives that develop entrepreneurs and promote the commercialization of technology. In other words - by bringing together great (albeit different) minds.
Companies like RewardLoop are an excellent example of how tech companies can benefit and find success from the resources, including programs and guidance from mentors, available to them right here in our province. Earlier this month, the entrepreneurship@Wavefront program participant secured $1 million in funding to build out their transaction-based mobile loyalty offerings for merchants. Last year, RewardLoop made the Top 10 in the BCIC-New Ventures Competition and was named the Most Promising Startup by the BCTIA at their Technology Impact Awards.
Idea-generating laboratories like TRIUMF fit into this ecosystem as well. As a national laboratory based in Vancouver with expertise in accelerators, isotopes and basic physics, TRIUMF is full of ideas: good ideas, mediocre ideas, and...some bad ideas. The best ideas move forward by connecting our scientists with business experts, marketing savants and adventurous customers and clients. For instance, the laboratory recently developed a breakthrough in the technology of producing conventional isotopes. In order to move this technology forward, the laboratory had to "broaden its thinking" to engage and then partner with organizations and companies to move this key ingredient of personalized medicine from ‘idea' into ‘commercially available'. BC is rich in these partners and organizations like BCIC make a critical difference in bridging the gaps.
While there may not be any guarantees or roadmaps for success, meeting and partnering with others who have been there and done that can help entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls that are common among startups and open their eyes to opportunities they may not have known existed.comments powered by Disqus