On Friday 18 October 2019, Verhaert hosted the 16th edition of its Innovation Day. A special edition, as Verhaert also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. After the lectures Flemish Minister of Innovation Hilde Crevits opened the reception: “We should create a healthy innovation environment of collaboration and communication between government and industry.”
Innovation to tackle current societal challenges
Flemish Minister of Innovation Hilde Crevits visited Verhaert’s Innovation Day as the first in a series of company visits. She said the following on the role of the government on innovation:
The government should create a healthy environment to enable innovation. This does not just mean subsidizing it, but also means creating an environment of collaboration and communication between government and industry. We need to join forces to tackle our current challenges and changes, and most importantly when it comes to climate change and Artificial Intelligence.Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister of Innovation
50 years of pioneering innovation
50 years is a bizarre age for people, and that’s also the case for a company. It’s an age to celebrate, but it also sparks reflection on past years. So this year, we celebrate our 50th anniversary, but also use this milestone to reflect on past accomplishments and future prospects to ensure continuous innovation.Koen Verhaert, CEO Verhaert Masters in Innovation
Verhaert was founded in 1969 during a time of revolution and innovation: we went to the moon, the Concorde took its first flight, Woodstock took place, and in Belgium the driver’s license, VAT and postal code were introduced. Since then a lot has changed and continues to change. Those changes and resulting challenges characterize the framework of this Innovation Day’s lectures.
Innovation in perspective in 5 tracks
The Innovation Day is an annual event with 16 lectures in 5 tracks to share insights on innovation management, product development and technology to guide the innovation agenda.
The first track, called MyFutureProduct, focused on what future products will look like. Specifically, the lectures discussed the changes in value drivers in product development and future products, such as customer needs and companies ambitions. Another mayor change was the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and digitalization. Today, it can no longer be considered a feature in products, it’s the core. The last of these lectures examined how mature businesses can continue innovating.
MyInnovationFactory was the second track and concentrated on the organization of innovation and how to manage the process. Innovation often means change and that change is not always easy. These lectures considered the following ways to guide innovation: the importance of using the right KPI’s, a quality management system and finding the adequate approach on different innovation risks.
The lectures in Track 3, MyStartUp, examined how start-ups work, how to interact with them and how to implement the start-up management in your (mature) company. Start-ups are a relatively new way of organizing innovation and companies need those start-ups to reach innovation ambitions. Furthermore, it introduced the concept pretotyping, prototyping in an early stage to simulate marketing action and learn from it.
The fourth track, called MyFutureGovernment, discussed the crucial role of the government in innovation and the necessity to set-up systems to interact between government and industry to encourage innovation. Society changes constantly and both government and industry need to adapt to that. Furthermore, governmental innovation has dual ambitions: on the one hand, it needs to solve the specific problem or need, and on the other it has to create a knowledge chain and industry activity derived from it.
The lectures in Track 5, MyTechnology, stressed the difference between product and technology development and the need to not see technology as an objective, but as an enabler. Today, humanoid and geospatial technologies are frequently used in everyday products, something that would have seemed absurd not too long ago. Furthermore, these lectures focused on Advanced Human Interfaces and software languages, and the importance of choosing the right one.