By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA
Barriers, pinch points may open doors for innovation.
To an audience of about 225 people, in Lubbock, yesterday, Robert Kaplowitz, music and sound designer highlighted, based on his 25-year career experience, how obstacles can be turned around to innovate and create new businesses.
These days, research and development has become interdisciplinary and focus on problems affecting societies. Innovation has to engage the community and solve bigger problems, stated Kimberly Gramm, associate vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship at Texas Tech University.
“Innovation is scary sometimes as it means change,” stated Gramm.
Scientists can no longer remain in silos and they have to interact with marketing specialists, business experts and designers. This is particularly a necessity to transform an idea from laboratory to market space. This scribe can attest to this need, as an international collaborative effort was needed to enable the cotton-based oil absorbent TowelieTM to reach end-users.
Kaplowtiz highlighted how a team of collaborators improved the attendance to the famous Lapidarium stone sculpture museum in Prague by using Disney World practices—making the experience interactive with good sound and light ambience.
Technology can be great, but it needs good consumer base. This emphasizes the importance of constant improvements to products and processes to enlarge the consumer base. This aspect was clear in Kaplowitz’s talk, as was the case with his “Stage Collar,” sound App, which hit a saturation with the number of theaters that can the technology.
Improving the product to appeal to wider markets is an important mantra. In the case of TowelieTM, while the technology was originally invented for the oil and gas sector, making the product appealing and cost effective is finding applications in metal manufacturing, automotive and household cleaning sectors.
Innovation appears at pinch points, according to Gramm and those points have to be keenly observed and seized. A good initiative, which is gaining momentum, is “Arts in Medicine.”