I attended the 2014 fall event of Innovators International as part of the delegation of the MN Secretary of State. The event was hosted by Mayo Clinic and was attended by many corporations. The event format is very diverse and collaborative in nature spanning several days. The overall goal of the events are to build the community of innovation professions and inspire collaboration between the members.
Being hosted at Mayo the event included several tours of the Mayo campus and the Innovation Centers and Venture Groups. Mayo continues to expand its own internal capabilities around acceleration and incubation while growing its network to external venture capital expertise.
The event had numerous speaker talk on various innovation topics and best practices. This was blended with actual working sessions to apply the methods. What was interesting was the workshops where applying them to the companies real business challenges. In some cases a several corporate members had volunteered in advance to bring in a real world problem or case study that all the attendees would work on in separate breakout teams. This provided the featured companies all the insights and suggestions from a wide diversity of companies, market perspectives, and experienced practitioners. Problem sets varied from pure business cases to the internal challenges of building out internal capabilities and culture. These working sessions provided great relationship building both in your break out team, but also hearing the experience from other companies would create follow up meetings to learn more during the social break out times or after the conference.
Another feature of the event is each member identified both areas of needs and strengths of their organization. This provided a broad rolodex for on going collaboration between members. I know my own experience continued well after the event connecting with members on areas of synergy and mutual benefit. I think this event shined in the areas of community development and in having actual real world working sessions.
As I look at the growing numbers of innovation centers around the world I see the potential of have these experience being made available real time to any company vs. in the rare occurrence of an event. If companies can access a center at any time and participate in an active community this can be a strategic asset for the entire region. Companies can share best practices, experience, and ask for help – rapidly networking to other groups in the community with that experience or mutual interest. Collaboration and Co-opition are at the heart of innovation and the companies that can do that the best will go the farthest. Soon this will be the new norm of business.