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Innovation is by anyone, for everyone

As part of the #GCInclusiveInnovation campaign, Yvonne Grady, Innovation Lead at the GC Business Growth Hub considers the inclusive nature of innovation and the impact this can have on business and the wider community.

HMR Circle's 'Give and Take Care' service tackles social isolation and has seen the business increase turnover and headcount.

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"Innovation breeds on diversity where all ideas are good ideas. By opening doors and minds innovation can have a positive effect on both the local economy and the local community" #GCInclusiveInnovation

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Innovation is huge. Wherever you look, whether flipping through the pages of a scientific journal, reading the paper or scrolling through Instagram, we are inundated with imagery and adverts promoting countless innovative products and services for consumers to covert, or for the entrepreneur to envy and wonder “why didn’t I think of that?”.

When reviewing the latest app or dongle which is certain to make our lives better, it can be easy to think that development of innovation belongs in the realm of the highly qualified designer or technician, or the work of multinational household names like Apple or Samsung. And perhaps in the past that would have been correct. But with the advent of the World Wide Web, and the freedom that came with it, we have seen innovation in the most unlikely of places.

Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Circle (HMR Circle) provide services which tackle social isolation. They developed a new service proposition which created a step-change in how the business operated, which led to them winning a new contract with Brunel University, to deliver an innovative new befriending service called Give and Take Care. The service provides a ‘care credit’ scheme where each hour spent adds to a ‘care pension’ for use in the future. Not only is this a really innovative way to tackle a huge social issue, it also has led to HMR Circle increasing their turnover and headcount.

Innovation is a simple word that brings with it a huge potential, and for those getting it right that could mean enormous businesses success on a global scale. When you combine ‘what is possible’ with ‘what is needed’ innovation flourishes.

KMS Solutions provide digital healthcare solutions. By securing a small innovation grant they were able to speed up their R&D processes to develop and test prototype devices. This led to the development of a digital healthcare solution in the form of a simple to operate wearable device. The product is designed to support vulnerable adults and children who want to maintain their independence, whilst providing peace of mind for their carer via a detection notification system when the ‘safe zone’ has been breached.

You may think innovation is just for engineers or academics, developing cutting-edge technology, the latest smartphone or ground-breaking cancer treatment, but it’s much broader than that, it involves every aspect of a business of any type or size. Innovation is all encompassing – it’s about doing things differently and applying this thinking to every area of your business.

In Greater Manchester it’s about as diverse as it can get … I lead the GC Business Growth Hub’s Innovation team and we are seeing businesses of all shapes and sizes harnessing new innovative ideas; sometimes from inside their own organisation but more often not, as a result of collaborating with partners that offer a different set of skills. Accessing this expertise brings new ideas, creative thoughts and new imaginations in the form of a physical product or service, or a new way of operating. 

People with any number of skills can excel in innovation, whether their strengths lie in design, physics, finance, problem solving, market knowledge, creative thinking or in common sense; there is no personal specification; it does not discriminate. Innovation breeds on diversity where all ideas are good ideas. By opening doors and minds innovation can have a positive effect on both the local economy and the local community, and we see this every day at the GC Business Growth Hub. 

Asif Timol from Momentum Legal developed a new service offering at his law firm by working collaboratively with the University of Bolton’s Law School. The service provides a budgeted employment law plan to businesses and fixes their cost on a monthly basis, which is hugely beneficial to a growing business. The collaboration has led to graduate employment and work experience opportunities and the firm’s turnover is forecast to increase by 20%.

Each of these examples, demonstrate a business using creativity and collaboration to solve a problem, and there are countless examples of businesses doing this well.

This month Venturefest returned to the North West, and with it the Innovation Showcase competition which highlights some of the best innovative products, services and businesses in the region. As always, the diversity in the shortlist is astounding. We have businesses that have developed products to improve safety in healthcare, eco-innovation tackling plastic waste and tools to enable young people to use tech more readily. It is such an exciting time to see people harness the power of technology to create tangible benefits, not just for their business but for all of us. Innovation is by anyone, for everyone.

Header image copyright: This is Engineering

KMS Solutions developed wearable tech for vulnerable adults who want to retain their independence.

Asif Timol developed a new service in collaboration with the University of Bolton that could be accessible to growing businesses.

Venturefest North West 2019 showcased people harnessing the power of technology to create tangible benefits, not just for their business but for all of us.

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Yvonne Grady

Yvonne Grady, Innovation Lead

Yvonne is an established business and innovation manager with over 25 years’ experience in the manufacturing, engineering, business and professional service sectors.  She has worked on numerous high growth innovative projects, helping to take hundreds of new products and services from concept through to commercialisation.

As well as working with businesses such as Unilever, Jaguar Land Rover and the Pera Group, Yvonne has also worked with SMEs at board level, helping to opportunities for innovation improvements that can add value to the bottom line. 

During her career, Yvonne has developed extensive project and programme management experience in both the public and private sectors, including working with Lancaster University’s  Management School Innovation Growth Programme.