Tom Standage reports on the The Economist Eighth Annual Innovation Summit and Awards
It may be the worst of economic times, but recessions ? and even depressions ? tend to be the best of times for far-seeing entrepreneurs and business executives committed to innovation. Indeed, many keen observers declare that innovation is recession-resistant if not fully recession-proof.
Consider the list of companies started in previous downturns: General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, Walt Disney and Microsoft. Or the products launched during recessions, when the common wisdom was to cut back rather than spend money on new ideas: the integrated circuit, the IBM personal computer, Rice Krispies and the iPod.
Innovation is a long-term strategic weapon as well as the foundation for success, growth and prosperity for both business and society. It is precisely during difficult economic times that it needs to be nourished, not neglected. That?s why big companies such as Procter & Gamble, Intel, Johnson & Johnson and Cisco all have made public commitments that during the currentrecession they will maintain funding for R&D to position themselves to grow and be leaders, through innovation, in the inevitable upturn.
The Economist?s Eighth Annual Innovation Summit and Awards highlight the individuals and organisations that are making outstanding innovations in a wide variety of fields. The summit brings together many of the world?s brightest minds to discuss and debate how to support innovation and use it to propel business forward. The awards ceremony celebrates seven individuals and one company for their world-leading innovations.
Described as the ?Oscars of Innovation?, the awards recognise not just brilliant ideas, but the commercialisation and adoption of those ideas as products, which can produce immense changes in society. When evaluating ideas, judges rate them on meeting three criteria:
Innovative ideas are not limited to any one region of the world, nor do they solely emerge from large corporations with deep financial resources. Over the course of the past seven years, winners of the The Economist?s Innovation Awards have hailed from countries as diverse as America, Bangladesh, Britain, Canada, Finland, India, Japan and Peru.
Sometimes the recognition is awarded to a lonely researcher in a university laboratory, other times to teams in advanced corporate R&D organisations or to entrepreneurs whose work may pose a threat to their own company?s existing products. But in every case the dedicated individuals have persevered, brought their discoveries to life and had a startling impact. Three previous winners went on to win Nobel Prizes for their accomplishments and others had been awarded Nobel Prizes before being recognised by The Economist.
The Economist presents its Innovation Awards to individuals in recent economic history who have toiled in seven areas:
In addition to these individual awards, The Economist now recognises corporate innovation, with an award that goes not to an individual, but to an enterprise that has successfully institutionalised the process of innovation to benefit its shareholders, customers and partners. With the exception of the corporate innovation award, the winners are nominated by Economist readers, journalists and members of an international faculty of 31 judges (many of whom were former winners), including the chief executive of UK Trade & Investment, Andrew Cahn. The Economist researches the nominees, eliminating those where one or more of the three criteria of idea, commercialisation and broader success aren?t met. The judges then select the winners in all categories, except for corporate innovation, where the winner is selected by the newspaper itself.
The 2008 winners included Bill and Melinda Gates for Social and Economic Innovation; Sir Martin Evans for stem cell research in the Bioscience category; Sumio Iijima for his work developing carbon nanotubes in the No Boundaries category; Matti Makkonen for SMS text messaging in Compu-ting and Telecommunications; Steve Chen and Chad Hurley for YouTube in Consumer Products and Services; Arthur Rosenfeld for his work as an energy efficiency pioneer in Energy and the Environment; Jimmy Wales for Wikipedia in Business Process; and Nokia for corporate innovation.
Robin Bew, Editorial Director, Economist Intelligence Unit
Matthew Bishop, Chief Business Writer and American Business Editor, The Economist
Andrew Cahn, Chief Executive, UK Trade & Investment
Marvin H. Caruthers, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado
Hermes Chan, President and CEO, MedMira
Martin Cooper, Chairman and CEO, ArrayComm
George Craford, Chief Technology Officer, Philips Lumileds Lighting Company
Hernando de Soto, Chairman, Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD)
Rodney Ferguson, Managing Director, Panorama Capital
Janus Friis, Founder, Atomico, Joost; Former Director of Strategy and Innovation, Skype
Lisa Gansky, Director, Dos Margaritas; Founder, Ofoto
François Grey, Head of IT Communications, CERN, and Visiting Professor, Tsinghua University
Vic Hayes, Former Chair, IEEE 802.11, Standards Working Group for Wireless LANs
Mo Ibrahim, Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Former Chair, Celtel
Paul Jackson, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research B.V.
Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Research in Motion, Ltd.
Matti Makkonen, Co-developer, Short Message Service (SMS)
Yoichiro Matsumoto, Professor, Dean of Engineering Faculty, University of Tokyo
Ed McBride, Business Editor, The Economist
Louis Monier, Founder, Alta Vista
Andrew Odlyzko, Professor, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota
Andrea Pfeifer, CEO, AC Immune SA
Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Knowledge Commission, India
C.K. Prahalad, Professor of Corporate Strategy,
Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Navi Radjou, Executive Director, Centre for India & Global Business, Judge Business School, Cambridge University
Rinaldo Rinolfi, Executive Vice President, Fiat Research
Paul Saffo, Technology Forecaster
Jerry Simmons, Deputy Director for Energy Sciences of the Center for Physical, Chemical, and Nano-Sciences, Sandia National Laboratories
Tom Standage, Editor, Technology Quarterly, The Economist (Chairman)
Vijay Vaitheeswaran, Biotechnology Correspondent, The Economist
Jeff Weedman, Vice-president of External Business Development, Procter & Gam
For more information about this year?s honorees, past winners and other details of The Economist?s Innovation Awards please visit:
Tel: 020 7576 8118
Added the 06 October 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-2