What does innovation success look like?

Innovative Technology

Does winning the Innovator of the Year Award mean success in the innovation eco-system?  I think it does.

Congratulations to Integrity Technologies’ owner Lindsay Wadsworth on winning the Grande Prairie Chamber’s 2015 Innovator Award.

Lindsay (left) accepts award from GPRC CRI Director, Bruce Rutley

Lindsay like many innovators has a passion for solving problems.  He is successful because he saves companies time and money.

Lindsay recognized that real-time communications coupled with GIS mapping was needed by industry and government managers for potentially dangerous situations such as remote construction sites and fighting forest fires.

He built an innovative technology-based system called Sight Surveillance, a real-time personnel, asset tracking and logistics solution.  It is used in situations where decisions require communications and transfer of data are seriously limited because of location and geography. Sight Surveillance removes those barriers and helps field operators communicate and share intelligence to make better and quicker decisions in the field.

By solving the problem of accessing real-time communications in remote and isolated locales, Lindsay’s system provided clients with the potential to dramatically improve workplace safety and reduce costs by knowing where the assets were operating and at what level they were operating at.

How is Success Measured?

Success can be measured from many viewpoints and stages of development.  From viewpoints it could be financial, the bottom-line question are we making money or being able to successfully forecast and bid future jobs.  Improvements to workplace safety can be another form of success that is shared by both the private and public sectors. For governments, encouraging industry to be more competitive and resilient to change and thereby increase business growth opportunities is another way to measure success.

For an innovator or SME measuring success is about advancing an idea through the innovation process.  Milestones in Lindsay’s case included:

  • understanding and solving a customer’s problem
  • developing a concept drawing of how something should work
  • having it engineered and a proto-type built
  • and having it third-party tested in field conditions.

Lindsay accomplished those and more, he has successfully got his innovative product being used by clients.

Lindsay attributes part of his success to being able to access GPRCs Centre for Research & Innovation, a regionally based innovation service provider in his community and AITF (Alberta Innovates Technology Futures).

The Importance of an innovation Ecosystem

How important is having access to an innovation ecosystem? In some cases it is critical.  Most communities know the value of having strategies and resources for research, commercialization and entrepreneurship.

Dan Herman and David Fransen in a recent Globe & Mail article talk about successful approaches to innovation including: expanding the focus beyond start-ups to scale-ups; recruiting & developing high-tech management talent; building effective research-and-development support systems; better enabling & supporting industry-academic partnerships; and my favorite, pursuing disruption – “such as Peter Diamandis’s X-Prize Foundation is an example of how the world’s best and brightest can be induced to take on seemingly impossible challenges”.

Success can look like initiatives that inspire innovators and entrepreneurs with just the right leadership to show the way forward.

A Strategic Plan

For businesses like Lindsay’s, successful innovation has to be strategic.  Businesses and people fortunately do not have unlimited resources to do ad-hoc innovation in every which way and on every idea. A person needs to be energetic and purposeful in moving their innovation forward.  Being successful at innovation usually means having a process that is mapped out ahead of time and where possible having innovation process incorporated into how the business operates.

So success can be many things from a whole array of perspectives.  One of the biggest showcase of success for me is seeing that smile of a young entrepreneur’s face when he is on stage being applauded by his peers and knowing that he is successfully moving innovations forward.

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