News in brief: Innovate 2015

News in brief
News in brief

Design in innovation

People don’t buy technology, they buy what technology can do for them. This was the premise of a debate held at London’s Innovate 2015 event earlier this week, where a panel of experts discussed the relationship between design and innovation. First up to speak was global design head at Tata Elxsi, Nick Talbot, who asked the delegates to consider whether their products give the people what they want. He gave examples of what might be considered ‘useless technology’, such as an egg cracker, or a water bottle with Bluetooth technology that reminds the user when they are thirsty. He then stressed the importance of design to make products eye-catching and appealing.

Designers are all about humanising technology, to make it gorgeous and interesting to the user. Importantly, Talbot stressed that a good design is key to getting funding for your product. Next up was senior interaction designer at IDEO, Siri Johansson, who suggested that the key to good design is to be inspired by people. The example she gave was a kitchen of the future, a project she has been working on with IKEA, which featured a table-top with an interactive surface that would suggest recipe ideas using ingredients available in the house. The idea is to reduce waste, and it is very much based on human behaviours – view more details at Director of experience design at IBM Interactive Experience Kalpesh Rathod was next to the stage, where he asked delegates to take 30 seconds to design a vase. After that, he asked them to come up with a better way for people to enjoy flowers in their home. Needless to say most delegates produced two very different drawings – an interesting demonstration of the importance of reframing problems in order to think differently.

Lastly, associate professor of organisational performance at Warwick Business School Dr Pietro Micheli took to the stage to discuss the impact of design on various areas of business. A well designed product should positively impact your business process and lower the risk of failure, as well as increasing your brand recognition among customers and driving sales.

Mission Possible: global expansion

A group of entrepreneurs gathered for a discussion on trade missions at Innovate 2015 in London this week. Participants included the CEO of Whitefox Technologies Gillian Harrison, the CEO of Long Run Works Guy Pattison, and the eponymous industrial designer from Sebastian Conran Associates. The panel discussed what it takes to access overseas markets, and how it can be daunting for young companies with limited resources and contacts. The participants gave first-hand experience of the benefits of banding together with other like-minded people and entrepreneurs for an overseas mission. Here are their top tips for making the most of the experience:

• Joining up with other entrepreneurs is better than going it alone, because you get an opportunity to bounce ideas off one another

• You do not even need to group together with other businesses working in the same market as you – in fact, its often better if you are not competitors

• Americans like buying American things – if you want to operate officially in the US you need a presence there that consumers can trust

• Set up an office in your new target market and hire local people

• Think big – do not go into anything half-heartedly

• While away on trade missions, make sure you are up early enough and organised enough to manage your on-going business commitments – it will be a week of hard work, but the payoffs are worth it

• Play to your strengths and understand how the world sees you – you may consider yourself ‘British’ but a company looking for ‘European design’ may see you differently

• Do your research before you go, and know who you would like to speak to while you’re out there

• Know your objectives for the mission to focus your mind

• Always follow up on any contacts made while on a trade mission – it may sound obvious, but you do not want to miss an opportunity