Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Nurturing innovation ecosystem

Last week I wrote about the innovation chain; imagination, creativity and innovation and some issues which are faced by Malaysia in moving up the economic value chain. Perhaps now we could explore in more details on how innovation could be nurtured in the society using platforms which are available.

If we observe the innovation chain, the three components involve the ability of people to push their minds to invent something that is not readily available or to solve problems which are yet to be resolved. Some of these invention and solutions could then to made available to the society at large with certain commercial return to the inventors. If innovation is defined as imagination applied which create value, then the invention or solutions should address the needs of the market rather than just addressing the ego of the inventors.

This is the reason why innovation ecosystem is important. An ecosystem, if I could remember my Biology correctly, is about the dynamic relationship among the living beings if a defined environment which enable the environment to be lively. In the case of innovation is the relationships between inventors, learning and research institutions, commercial organisations, developmental agencies and other stakeholders with the ultimate objective of making more Malaysian ideas to be commercialised here and abroad.

The institutions and markets are basically collections of people organised by laws or common interests. So, we we are describing innovation ecosystem, we are discussing about how people in different roles interacting to enhance innovation. This is where technology could facilitate and enable effective interaction.

If we take the InnoXchange initiative which I mentioned in my last week's article, it is a ready platform where players in the innovation ecosystem could congregate, communicate, debate and interact. Among further effort that could be considered to bring this platform to a higher level are:
  • Identify champions for specific sector. The champions should invite more participants, encourage interaction, highlights issues and facilitate the innovation process.
  • Developmental agencies start to use InnoXchange as the platform to nurture innovation based on their respective mandate. For example, PUNB could use this to encourage retailing business to discuss issues and find solutions for the entrepreneurs under their support. PNS could do the same for the franchise industry and MARDI for the agriculture sector.
  • Industry players could start depositing issues and challenges that they face and perhaps offering grants or prizes for ideas or efforts which they feel could lead to solutions.
  • Financial institutions and venture capital should also make their presence here by indicating support for the inventors and entrepreneurs who are members of the innovation ecosystem
  • Government could organise competitions and offers grants for innovators and entrepreneurs who manage to work on viable commercialisation ideas.
  • Institutions of higher learnings could encourage academicians and students to participate and consider such participation as part of the programmes of their institutions.
The innoXchange on its own would not be able to create success stories without the involvements of other members of the ecosystem. What is important now is for the champions to start playing their roles and build the community to a level where things could move on their own.

Perhaps more information and promotion about innoXchange would be helpful. This should include articulating ways and means for others to participate. Let the communities which will spring from this initiative to chart their rule of engagements. The owner of the platform should remain facilitators.
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