Economist Innovation Forum and Awards 2015



The Economist Innovation Awards 2015


The Economist Events’ Innovation Awards & Summit 2015 was held in Hong Kong on October14, 2015. This unique event explores new trends in business innovation and focuses on the challenges of innovating inside Asia’s established businesses. This year The Economist held the fourteenth annual Innovation Awards, the only awards presented by the newspaper.

The Economist showcases creative individuals who dream up new ideas and turn them into reality. Since 2002, this initiative has recognized the work of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, thinkers, creators, scientists and innovators.

Shenzhen Fountain Corporation sponsored the Economist Innovation Award 2015 in the category Energy and the Environment. The winners for this year’s innovation award in the category Energy and the Environment are Elon Musk, CEO of TESLAMotors and JB Straubel, CTO of TESLA Motors.

Key Insights from The Economist Innovation Awards and Summit 2015

Innovation is not invention, even though it’s commonly conflated with new technologies.

But the essence of innovation is about how to make magic out of those inputs as well as others to create value.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran, China business editor and Shanghai bureau chief, The Economist

Innovation is an essential quality for businesses to have because the way that you have to compete and win today is different than what you might have done to compete and win five or ten or fifteen years ago. So we’ve had to change our game in order to play and compete and win in the 21st century in fundamentally different ways.

John Rice, vice-president, General Electric

If you look at someone like Alibaba, who had grown up as an analogue to a western start-up like Amazon. They’ve arguably surpassed it in many dimensions and they themselves have adopted a bit of the Silicon Valley model. But now they have gone from just being a consumer of venture funding to being a provider of venture capital themselves and proved it that they can do it on a global scale.

Michael Redding, Managing director, strategic technology innovation, Accenture Technology Labs

And again innovation is essential, it’s kind of live blood of what we do. We are trying to ever more aggressive missions at NASA and the tools to do the mission haven’t been invented yet. So we have to keep it at the forefront. It’s also important that we keep thinking about what is possible and innovation is what makes that happen.

David Miller, chief technologist, NASA

We need to reduce carbon emissions but it’s very difficult to deal with that kind of issue. Because of the density of the population, because of the amount of energy and resources we have to use.

Shenzhen Fountain Corporation thinks that innovation probably is the only way to secure this sustainable and habitable world.

Andrew Zheng, CEO Shenzhen Fountain Corporation

I think the biggest thing that we’ve learned is that we have to be students. Maybe that’s kind of counter-intuitive but we learnt that we have to be students first and teachers second.

Because if you go into China, even with an innovative model like Silicon Valley, you think that you gonna teach something, and you think you are bringing in something new.

Sure you gonna get a lot of attention from the media, from the government and a lot of subsidies and great things like that. But at the end of the day, really trying to change their system because we have something to teach was probably not the best idea. I think we’ve learned very quickly that we have to be students.

Arman Zand, Founding partner, Red Lion Capital

Our fifth category is energy and environment. Our winner there for creating high-performance electric cars goes jointly to JB Straubel, who is the CTO, and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors.

Finally I’d like to thank sponsors without whom none of these would have been possible.

The gold sponsor Shenzhen Fountain, they have really enabled us to bring all these together, convene a great audience and a great panel of speakers.

Tom Standage, Deputy Editor, The Economist