Do you ever find yourself reminiscing about the past? Your first record player? Your first Walkman, then Discman, then mp3 player, then video iPod? As we take a look back at how technology has advanced throughout the years, it is clear that we can attribute that evolution to one thing: inventions through innovation.
Of the many ways inventions can emerge, a significant amount of inventions come from entrepreneurs. In this context, entrepreneurs can be described as those who create an invention and bring it to market with the ultimate goal of making a profit. Entrepreneurs face numerous burdens, challenges and risks. As an entrepreneur, you have a clean slate from which you are to create your invention. You also begin with zero resources and must beg and convince relevant banks, funds and angel investors to believe enough in your idea to finance your project. During the process, you do not make any money. Even if an invention ‘works’, the commercialization process – that is, getting your invention to market – is a long and difficult road. If your invention fails, you are the one that feels the biggest impact. After all, you have devoted everything you have to create this invention. It is for these very reasons that people shy away from becoming entrepreneurs.
Why do something risky, when you can do something safe? It is likely that many do not have the confidence or do not believe enough in their own creative and innovative abilities to take that leap of faith. Yet if we take a look around, we see so many colleagues, friends and classmates who have so many great ideas as well as the intellectual and innovative prowess to create something that might better the world. It is a shame that the risks of entrepreneurship discourage them from doing so. It is for this very reason that various non-profit organizations have emerged to promote entrepreneurship and to assist entrepreneurs in every step of the way. In the health care and biotechnology sector, for example, government funded regional innovation networks like YORKbiotech and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster, have a mandate to assist start-up companies and entrepreneurs alike.
Let’s delve deeper.
So it seems that there are programs that foster entrepreneurship. But what about initiatives that foster creativity and innovation, both of which are fundamental pillars of entrepreneurship? Nissan Canada, with the guidance of Tony Chapman of Capital C Communications, has proceeded to do just that by launching HyperCube, a unique competition that promotes and encourages creativity and innovation. Fifty of the most creative individuals will receive a hot prize – the new Nissan Cube. Those chosen to “audition” in the final round of this ‘social creativity’ project will be provided with a blank “online canvas” on which they will display their creativity to the world through self-expression. Finalists will be able to upload images, audio, video and text files as part of their submission. Like various reality shows of our day, the fifty lucky winners of the Nissan Cube will be chosen by us – the general public – through online voting.
The advantages of such a ‘social creativity’ competition are three-fold. First, by showcasing their talent to the world, applicants may perhaps be able to instill a confidence in themselves and perhaps encourage them to take that entrepreneurial leap of faith. Second, the world will be able to learn from and be inspired by the innovative prowess that is displayed. Third, this competition is the very sort of marketing campaign that works in our contemporary society because it focuses on “real” people. For example, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is so effective because it makes use of “real” people and is empowering in that sense.
Of course, the elephant in the room is this: are the intellectual property rights of the finalists protected after they have uploaded their submissions? The rules and regulations state that “the Sponsor shall have right to publish, display, reproduce, modify, edit or otherwise use their Materials in whole or in part on the Website and/or for advertising or promoting the Competition or for any other reason.” Will this use of the finalists’ submissions prevent HyperCube from achieving its fullest potential? After all, the existence of intellectual property rights is to promote innovation by encouraging creators to disclose their work. If their work is not protected by intellectual property rights, then creators might be hesitant in revealing the details in fear that it might be copied by someone else.
Assuming that there is some mechanism in place to protect the intellectual property rights of the HyperCube finalists, these types of “social creativity” projects seem promising in promoting creativity and innovation. This in turn will encourage entrepreneurship, which will ultimately promote the creation of inventions.