Innovation Increases Relevance
Innovation changes its meaning from person to person; however, I see it as a new or improved method, process, approach, product, strategy, or service that increases impact and value. Innovation helps organizations, products, services, and entire regions stay relevant. As such, communities and regions that promote and grow a strong innovative and entrepreneurial culture, that supports technological development and adoption, ultimately increase their productivity, competitiveness, and relevance.
Creating a Culture of Innovation
We can stimulate a culture of innovation by first starting at the individual before moving to the community level. Be willing to embrace failures and reinforce an iterative “prototype and test, fall down, get up, learn, and repeat” mentality. At a mature organizational level, it is important to dedicate resources and funds specific to innovation and be willing to not tie this to an immediate return on investment and to reward collaboration and non-zero-sum interactions across teams.
Most people find it challenging to let go of old ways and step out of their comfort zone. Progress is accelerated when we realize that standing still presents a greater risk than moving forward, even when we risk failing at something new. Those that have experienced this tend to recognize the pattern and learn to act sooner rather than wait. As a community, we need to reinforce and support individuals, companies and organizations that embrace and accelerate change and innovation.
Successes of Post-Secondary Institutions
Edmonton’s post-secondary institutions are vital in our innovation and entrepreneurial community. My work at NAIT and as a member of the ERIN gives me the opportunity to contribute to building teams that impact Alberta. Witnessing the impact of our work on others and seeing their excitement and passion energizes me and inspires me to continue supporting new and creative solutions to serve our community.
Olle Lagerquist has been involved in Alberta’s research and innovation community since 2004. He’s had the pleasure of supporting hundreds of industry-sponsored applied research and innovation projects and is currently the Associate Vice President-Industry Solutions at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Olle has a passion for building strong and innovative teams and serves as the Co-Chair of the Edmonton RIN.