Urenio Watch Watch: Innovative Companies

2006 Innovation and Design Excellence Awards

Seven companies were rewarded for their innovation talents by the 2006 Innovation and Design Excellence Awards (iDEAS). These are companies that have recognised that creativity and design innovation are the critical elements of continually improving and reinvigorating themselves to stay ahead of the competition.

The 2006 iDEAs provide an opportunity to see what best practices and actions these winning companies are taking.

Innovation is not just the harvesting of new ideas, it is also their implementation. Some organizations concentrate their efforts on generating ideas, then pay less attention to developing them further – and launching products. The winners are good at developing new ideas and also the process of bringing them to the market,

said Dr Marek Szwejczewski Director of the Innovation and Design Excellence Awards. “Product development was undertaken using cross-functional teams that use a systematic, formal new product development process – with a route map to follow, and clear approval stages. We found that all the firms have a passion to develop breakthrough products, to take risks and an understanding of the important role that innovation has in business success.”

According to Dr Marek Szwejczewski this year’s award winners come from different industrial sectors. They vary in size from start-ups to multinationals. However, they have a number of factors in common:

  • They all consider that innovation is critical to the business, so make it a key element of the corporate strategy. This innovation strategy is supported by the top management. It is driven by, and linked to, the overall business strategy.
  • These companies have a long-term commitment to investing in advanced technologies.
  • They are developing new, differentiated products that provide exceptional value to the customer. This ability to develop innovative products comes from a deep understanding of their customers’ needs, acquired through surveys, interviews and – most importantly – direct interaction with users. It ensures that they bring the ‘voice of the customer’ to the process of developing new products.
  • These firms often worked closely with customers to develop new products to ensure acceptance in the market. Sometimes customers became co-developers, helping to test the prototypes and suggesting improvements and modifications to the design.
  • The winners have created working environments that encourage innovation, and where cooperation and teamwork flourish. The firms have a no-blame culture, where it is acceptable to make mistakes. Employees are encouraged to take risks, consider novel ideas or start bold new initiatives.

The winners

Scientific Generics Innovation & Design Excellence of the Year Award
Design Collaboration Award
Business-to-Business Product Innovation Award
Tied Winners: CSR, RotorK
Consumer Product Innovation Award
The Technology Partnership
Product Innovation Award
‘Green’ Innovation Award
Fortress Interlocks
Innovative Small Company Award
Triteq. Highly Commended: GSPK Design, MLE