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Global innovation agenda will grow stronger in 2013

As we begin a new year, we’d like to wish all our followers a happy and innovative new year in 2013.  The past year, 2012, involved some major activities in the evolution of The Next Silicon Valley, and our visibility seems to have aligned with an equally growing interest in the innovation agenda globally. Many countries have been involved in some way in innovation-related conferences, events or activities – whether they have been governmental, not-for-profit, or for-profit organizations.

We worked very closely with some of these, including the Global Innovation Summit in San Jose and innovaBRICS in London.  We also worked with the International Association of Science Parks annual conference IASP 2012 in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Global Innovation Summit, drew around 400 delegates and participants from 49 countries to Silicon Valley, not to gawk at reality TV crews or to rub elbows with the next Mark Zuckerberg, but in search of answers to what has become one of the world’s – if not the Valley’s – most urgent questions: “How do other countries, regions and cities cultivate ‘innovation ecosystems’ and what is the secret to building the next Silicon Valley?”  The summit made serious work out of decoding the Silicon Valley genome for attendees and delegates, while probing timely topics in distant places where entrepreneurship is a budding phenomenon and the prospect of home-grown technology-driven economic development represents perhaps the best and brightest hope for nations, places and people nearly left behind in past decades by the economic and technological advances of the major industrialized nations of the world.

For more about the issues raised by the summit, you can read our reports ‘A Tale of Two (Silicon) Valleys’, Silicon Valley Summit ponders: Can government and big firms hinder innovation?, and Trust is Key to Collaboration.

At the IASP2012 conference, there was a good look at look at the role of science parks in innovation ecosystems – around 500 delegates from over 50 countries attended, and considered themes around how science and technology parks can better support the innovation community, and discuss how the parks are changing structurally to become increasingly complex structures for professional innovation support. The next annual conference will take place in Recife, Brazil in October 2013, with the theme this year being ‘science parks shaping new cities’.

What has become clear is that innovation is at the top of the agenda for everyone and will continue to be even more so in 2013 – whether it is about creating innovation ecosystems to encourage regional growth, technology or product innovation, or innovative ideas and thinking related to governments or businesses. For example, at a regional level, Scott Anthony writes in the Harvard Business Review about Asia’s potential emergence as the innovation powerhouse of the world if it overcomes some of its cultural hurdles. Meanwhile, Forbes talks about how 2013 is going to be the year of the innovator.

And of course there has been no shortage of product and technology innovation in the last 20 or so years, which has formed the basis of innovative new ways of doing business and running governments, and this will continue to move at rapid pace in 2013. All the major technology companies strive to innovate to create new customer experiences, and not necessarily from just Apple and Samsung – for example, a Russian company, Yota Devices, is introducing an innovative new smartphone with two screens on either side of the handset – one side with a standard LCD screen, and the other side based on e-paper technology.

Results-driven innovation

As innovation comes on to the agenda of more organizations and governments, it’s quite likely that they will also be looking to measure the return on their investment in enabling innovation. After all, with many governments around the world on austerity drives, they will want to understand if their money is being well spent.

This could be a reason why there’s a book due out from Seth Kahan in March 2013 on ‘getting innovation right’. It says that innovation is not just a creative approach or new idea, but innovation is about success. To count as successful innovation, your new ideas have to generate measurable gains in the marketplace, for both your customers and your organization’s bottom line. The book has distilled this into seven key activities that produce results-driven innovation. Those seven activities make the difference between leaders who are haphazardly shooting in the dark with good ideas and those who consistently and systematically uncover potential, capitalize on opportunity, and generate traction that drives success in the marketplace.

It looks like innovation will be big business in 2013, beyond just innovation in technology and products or business processes. Innovation will drive the agenda at many levels – whether it is regions or locations trying to create their own version of ‘Silicon Valley’ or businesses looking at innovating their business models, processes and technologies. We look forward to an exciting 2013 and working with even more partners to evolve the global agenda in this evolving subject area.

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