Innovation Ireland Forum panel 2: building an innovation culture (videos)

28 Oct 2014

(Left to right) Silicon Republic CEO Ann O'Dea with NDRC CEO Ben Hurley, Fidelity Investments EVP, head of global business services Regina O'Sullivan, and Bell Labs entrepreneur-in-residence Mark Castleman. Photo by Robbie Reynolds

At the recent Innovation Ireland Forum in Dublin, the second panel discussion revolved around the creation of an innovation culture and how Ireland can be home to the next big thing, including billion-dollar exits.

The second panel, headed by Silicon Republic CEO Ann O’Dea, included NDRC CEO Ben Hurley, Fidelity Investments EVP, head of global business services Regina O’Sullivan, and Bell Labs entrepreneur-in-residence Mark Castleman.

The challenges of creating a culture of innovation in your organisation were brought to the fore at the forum.

Sullivan said innovation is in Fidelity Investments’ DNA.

“Technology gives us access,” she said on the need for organisations to embrace change.

She said companies, and in particular innovation teams, are increasingly being formed by a people with a multitude of disciplines and backgrounds.

“All disciplines need to think differently but you need to be able to translate industry with business, taking and putting together solutions for customers. But you also need to be able to hear them first.”

At Fidelity, Sullivan said Fidelity Labs has created a design thinking school based on the famous design school at Stanford University in California.

“The purpose is to look at new and innovative ways of working with customers – existing customers and future customers, it is really important to make sure we address the full spectrum of ideas and products.”

Castleman said Bell Labs is embracing a tradition of open innovation and is kicking of its Impact series of IP mash-ups between start-ups and academics in Ireland.

He said a variety of backgrounds is essential when researching and innovating.

He also said that when embarking on change or innovation, the “group nod” is essential.

“Once everybody decides and gives the group nod, everybody contributes. Then you need to have an objective that is intentional in its purpose and everyone can say ‘that is our objective.’”

He said that in teams it is very hard to set aside individual needs and wants but if team members can set aside their individuality and focus on the end goal they can be very effective.

Hurley agreed and said that in a remarkably short period of time, Ireland has come a long way in building out its innovation ecosystem.

“Twenty years ago, we didn’t have the R&D. It has been a long trajectory. The pipeline is strong and Ireland is recognised internationally as a driver of innovation and new capabilities. Our focus is about building that indigenous capability for venturing.

“It can come in time but it takes time to get there.”

Building the next big thing

Castleman said countries such as Ireland just need to get good at success in terms of building products, companies and achieving multi-billion dollar exits.

“As an entrepreneur, if someone comes to buy your company, sell it. It’s not the last deal you’ll ever do, it’s not your baby. This is an investment. The opportunity was there for you to learn and then you move on to the next thing.

“Get over it, get experience, layer the next big thing and in 10 years’ time you will have a whole cross-section of people that will have that experience and this is what will lead to the first billion-dollar exit.

“It will take time, get good at it. Don’t panic about the short-term success and it will lead to the long-term success.”

Watch highlights of the second panel discussion at the Innovation Ireland Forum here:

Innovation Ireland Forum, second panel discussion, part 1 of 2:

Innovation Ireland Forum, second panel discussion, part 1 of 2

Innovation Ireland Forum, second panel discussion, part 2 of 2:

Innovation Ireland Forum, second panel discussion, part 2 of 2

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years