I’ve always found ‘innovation’ such an ambiguous word. Literally, it comes from a Latin word meaning to renew, change or create.
But according to The Economist’s Innovation Awards, which I attended for the first time this year, innovation means far more than just renewing, changing or creating something.
I was especially heartened by Devi Shetty, the winner for business process innovation, who said “Innovation should reach everyone on this planet… everyone should have healthcare at an affordable price.”
Devi Shetty is India’s leading heart surgeon and the director of a hospital in Calcutta, who set out to apply Henry Ford’s philosophy (using mass-production techniques to cut costs through specialisation and economies of scale) to the Indian healthcare system.
I also liked what Tom Standage, Digital Editor, The Economist, said: “It’s about coming up with an idea, making it happen and creating value.”
“Innovation is essential for society. Every time we meet a barrier, we have to innovate around it,” said Marc Koska, who designed an affordable syringe to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, and was the winner for social and economic innovation.
As a public relations professional, I am often tasked by my clients to come up with creative or innovative campaign ideas. After listening to the speeches by the winners of this year’s awards, I am more convinced that innovation must be about making our planet a better place to live.
When you look at it that way, it comes as no surprise that this year’s winner of the best innovator for a decade went to one of the most charismatic innovators of all time – Mr Steve Jobs.