Why Are We Innovating Faster Than Ever Before?

Innovation has never happened faster, so what is causing this acceleration?


It's undeniable that innovation is happening faster than ever before. With new technologies like Uber, Airbnb, Instagram and countless others, our world is changing at a startling pace. So much so that Silicon valley innovation is fundamentally disrupting our social and cultural norms and practices.

This comes hand in hand with the stampeding encroach of the digitized world as innovation is the only way to stay ahead of the curve. As such, according to Deloitte, innovation is among the top five priorities for 96% of companies. But why is it happening at such a accelerated rate? We spoke with four of our speakers, past and present, about why innovation is happening faster than ever:

Raj Bhandari, Director of Innovation - Corporate Venture Capital and Partnerships at Anheuser-Busch

The rate of change has definitely accelerated on the back of globalization. The most important tool for a company looking to move as fast as the market is being able to create independent small teams.

Rachel Lee, Head of Talent Acquisition, APAC, ofo

In Asia, innovation is increasingly able to traverse at light speed due to the ‘light touch regulation’ approach by governments. In Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has enabled FinTech companies to innovate faster, by creating a regulatory sandbox environment with a non-intrusive framework that enables sustainable innovation.

This allows innovation to take place, even where it is not possible at the outset to anticipate every risk or meet every regulatory requirement. Innovation is also able to flourish safely within controlled boundaries, without widespread adverse consequences.

We have seen the same for ride-sharing initiatives in Asia - many governments understandably prefer companies like ofo to operate through a collaborative approach and compliance with existing regulatory frameworks. Ride-sharing operators provide direct benefits to communities through the commercial partnerships forged with local businesses and service providers. Service operations and logistics functions create local jobs and inject capital into local companies and the economy.

If governments and countries adopt a light touch regulatory approach, innovation is more likely to occur.

Open communications and positive public-private partnerships (PPP) between governments and bike sharing operators can deliver good outcomes for all – this includes areas such as transport, public health, economic growth, safety, and tourism.

Anna Villarreal, the founder and CEO of LifeStory Health

There is certainly a race to innovate, but I’m not sure “faster” is the issue. I think companies need to innovate smarter. Of course, machine learning is a big part of innovating smarter and therefore faster.

In the biotech space, if innovation outpaces regulations, patient impact is affected. Patient advocacy is a tool that LifeStory Health relies on to drive innovation at both the regulatory level as well as in research.

An example of regulation working in collaboration with research is the recent guidance issued by The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association came out with a new definition of Alzheimer's disease based on biomarkers.

LSH is starting an early onset Alzheimer study this July and this new regulation will allow for our innovations to be better received.

Co-leaders of Gore Innovation Center, Linda Elkins and Paul Campbell

Over time the focus of innovation has shifted from internal only for some companies to bringing in external ideas and working with external partners. This shifts the pace of innovation as startups are on a faster timeline than corporations. To ensure we are working with the best startups and getting them what they need, we need to move faster. One area that facilitates faster innovation is to 'deconstruct' corporate practices in legal, procurement, supply chain, and other functions that aren't built for speed but for the purpose of reducing risk in core businesses. The innovation team embraces risk when it explores new opportunities and speed is critical to these explorations. Internal processes that worked in the past sometimes only hinder innovation today. Applying a ‘deconstruction’ mindset puts the innovation leader in the position to rewrite policies that accelerate innovation, just like a startup CEO writes policies that support the startup’s mission.

Follow the debate and hear Rachel Lee speak at our Chief Innovation Officer summit in Singapore, July 11-12. 

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