Written by Jill Tipping | Published by the Vancouver Sun

February 28, 2018

Jill Tipping: Why I Care About Innovation and You Should Too

Invention is the creation of something new. Innovation is the application of something new — a new invention or the use of existing technology or knowledge is a new sphere. Innovation is sparked by problems and is all about solving those problems and having a positive impact on people, society and the planet.

As CEO of B.C. Tech, I’m constantly surrounded by passionate tech CEOs and entrepreneurs, from small-stage startups to larger, well-established companies — and they’re all intense innovators. The goal of many of these companies is to find smarter ways to get things done. They launch and build companies that inspire people to get behind the mission to create and transform ideas to real-life solutions.

Some of the ways we witness the impact of technology can be intimidating, even to people that work in the industry. Watching Elon Musk’s SpaceX team launch rockets into the sky (and land) or hearing controversy over AI, leads us to wonder and worry. We learn of new innovations every day, but there is skepticism surrounding change — from small-tech introductions at work to larger developments that can affect how we live our lives. Innovation is exciting, but also disruptive and it’s natural to ask if the benefits are worth the disruption.

The global workforce has had its fair share of upheaval and disruption over the past 300 hundred years — from the Industrial Revolution to the launch of the assembly line, to the digital revolution that we are currently in — workers have always faced a changing and evolving workplace. The fear and uncertainty around the future of jobs is real, and as we move toward more automation and the use of artificial intelligence, it’s easy to understand why many are fearful about what this means for them. We always fear what we don’t understand. The best way to address that fear is to learn and demystify through concrete, relevant local examples.

I’d like to share with you some amazing B.C. examples that you might not have heard about. These innovative tech examples developed in our own backyard have all made an impact, created new jobs and truly served a higher purpose. My goal is to show the actual impact of technological innovation, because once people get to touch, feel and really experience what tech innovation can do, nervousness is replaced by excitement.

The medical field has long been advancing innovative tech that you might not ever hear about, such as a company called Medeo health. It’s based in B.C. and has created an app that allows doctors to see patients online. This speeds up the process of getting secure messages, file transfers, online booking, and even video visits for patients. Nanozen has created a wearable that gives real-time readings on air-particle exposure for industrial workplace environments. This has a significant impact on industries such as mining. Testing air quality ensures workers are safe, a great example of tech elevating an industry for the better.

A different side of innovation is the adoption of technology — ideas that sprouted elsewhere and are adopted by communities and companies like the BCAA, which launched hybrid car-sharing Evo and have further invested in corporate innovation — which takes certain teams outside of the office to learn from top tech executives how they can innovate from the inside out.

Locally, we have also adopted Car-to-Go, prompting people to drive and park — sharing the road and investing less in cars and more in sharing. Mobi Bike has inspired locals to ride to work (especially in the summer) instead of driving. And you can now order groceries on your mobile, picking them up at your convenience, sorted and bagged at your local grocer. All these adoptions have helped us save time, created new jobs and also lowered our carbon footprint.

I choose to advocate for innovation through technology not only because I love technology, but also because I see it making massive impacts on industries and positive leaps to changing our future for the better. From effective on-the-job communication to developing city culture, I’m excited and truly looking forward to what new innovation comes next.

Jill Tipping is president and CEO of the B.C. Tech Association

This article was originally published on the Vancouver Sun on February 28, 2018.