INNOVATION, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, AND CREATIVITY
Experience has taught me that innovation is not just about creating something new, it also includes making improvements to existing products or systems. It is about taking a creative approach to problem solving and producing solutions that are unique, interesting, and useful. Innovation and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand as they both encourage creativity and risk-taking.
It is therefore important that concerted effort is made to breed a culture of innovation by encouraging diversity, risk taking and recognizing that failure is part of the innovation process, not something to be punished.
Innovate to disrupt
I have learned that few technologies are themselves disruptive, rather, it is the business model the technology enables that creates disruption and it is often existing off-the-shelf components applied cleverly to a small, fledgling value chain which delivers previously unnoticed benefits.
Building a Resilient Ecosystem
The biggest challenge facing Alberta is the lack of size and concentration of innovative leaders who have built, scaled, failed, and again built new companies. This is an incredibly important factor in the success of a region, as these leaders bring valuable insight, experience, and resources to the table.
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this challenge. One of the most effective methods is increasing the volume of Startup and Scaleup businesses in the region. This can be done by making resources available to entrepreneurs, such as access to capital, mentorship, and networking opportunities.
Finally, it is important to recognise that this challenge cannot be solved overnight. It will require sustained effort from both the public and private sectors to create the environment necessary for innovative leaders to thrive.
Passion for Volunteerism
My sincere interest in seeing Alberta grow is the major driver behind my decision to become involved in the ERIN and leading the Rainforest initiative in Edmonton over the last six years. The work being done through the Rainforest initiative has positively affected the ecosystem by engendering trust, giving voice to diverse perspectives, and opening the doors for previously excluded groups to play a more active role.
James Keirstead is the Co-Chair of the Edmonton Regional Innovation Network (ERIN), President and Chief Executive Officer of Levven, a smart home technology company, and leader of the Rainforest Edmonton initiative. He is an entrepreneur, father, husband, and avid mountain biker.