Each fall at our annual Impact gathering for corporate innovators, Innovation Leader presents the Impact Awards to companies that are leveraging innovation, technology, and R&D initiatives to achieve concrete business results. Usually, we host an in-person conference where we present the winners, but this year, we’re going virtual. Learn more about how we’re bringing a human aspect to our virtual conference with swag bags, virtual site visits, and more here.
There are three categories: Most Valuable Player, Impact Awards, and Best New Initiative, given to programs that are relatively new and thus aren’t yet producing the same level of metrics or business outcomes as finalists in the main category. (You can see the complete list of finalists here.)
Impact Award winners:
Olam International Limited
Initiative: Olam Direct
Based in Singapore, Olam International is one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocoa beans, coffee, cotton, and rice. Founded in 1989, the food and agri-business company operates in over 60 countries — but “in most places where Olam operates, supply chains are very rural and fragmented…largely due to the presence of multiple intermediaries, with most of them speculative players,” according to the company’s award submission.
That’s where its new platform Olam Direct — powered by a mobile app, an online portal, and an analytics dashboard — comes in. Olam Direct adds transparency to the transactions between farmers and the company by connecting them directly. Using a phone, farmers can raise a sales intent, fix a contract, sell produce at a price of their choosing, and receive payment. Transactions are possible with or without the internet.
According to the award submission, the platform has registered over 70,000 farmers across 12 countries, increased the value of farmers’ produce between 3 and 5 percent by bypassing intermediaries and by providing market price visibility, and created a traceability system with geo-tagging and timestamping that benefits both farmers and customers.
“This is such an important innovation for the agriculture space, bringing forward thinking to a market that uses great technology to do their work, and can use better technology to conduct their business,” says judge Cheryl Reed, Chief Innovation Officer at Dover Corporation. “I believe this will be truly transformative.”
Mass General Brigham
Initiative: Mass General Brigham’s COVID Pass Digital Attestation Application
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mass General Brigham faced the same challenge as all other health care systems across the world: Flattening the curve, while also treating as many patients as possible. This required a rapid digital transformation.
At Mass General Brigham, a crucial part of this digitization was COVID Pass, a digital symptom screening and attestation tool which allowed the hospital to keep track of any spread of COVID-19 inside of its walls. Created to screen the symptoms of over 30,000 employees, COVID Pass is a one-stop shop for frontline workers. It’s mobile-responsive, it provides guidance to the employee about next steps if they do present symptoms, it creates a digital “pass” that workers present to entrance way screening staff, and it is able to export user logs on at least a daily basis.
“In under 2 weeks, COVID Pass transitioned from a paper proposal to enterprise supported solution that is currently being used by over 30,000 employees daily. We’ve registered over 2.8 million staff attestations so far,” reads the award submission.
Not only has COVID Pass prevented more than 2000 symptomatic employees from coming to work, the data provided by the app has also assisted in determining necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) supply, and the platform doubles as a communication tool to the workforce. For example, COVID Pass can be used to inform employees of voluntary COVID-19 research studies taking place within the hospital.
In addition to creating an effective tool for their own organization, Mass General Brigham made it possible for any institution to leverage their technology by making the source code available to all for free on GitHub.
Best New Initiative Winners:
Initiative: TRD Innovation Program
Novartis Pharmaceuticals, known for producing drugs such as the ADHD treatment Ritalin, has made “reimagining medicine” its “raison d’etre” ever since CEO Vasant Narasimha joined in 2018, according to the company’s award submission. The company’s Technical Research and Development (TRD) group acts as “the critical bridge between discovery (conducted at the NIBR) and manufacturing,” the submission reads, making it possible to bring innovative drugs to market. In 2019, Novartis received five new NME (new molecular entity) approvals from the FDA.
This success was made possible by the company’s decision in 2018 to form an enterprise innovation program, leading to the creation of the TRD. Results included forming an innovation council, recruiting advisors, deciding on an innovation textbook and establishing a relationship with its author, and distributing 1,500 customized versions of the educational materials across the organization.
After the foundation for the program was put in place, education and ideation programs were initiated and followed by a 24-hour “Global Innovation Day” that spanned 17 time zones and included about 2,000 associates. This event included innovation pitch events, patient advocate panels, and a CEO panel. Funding was also secured, and an innovation challenge portal was put into place to encourage project ideation. According to the awards submission, the first batch of 10 projects selected from this event have recently matured “and the $50,000 investments yielded over $2 million net benefit within six months.”
“I’m impressed that in under two years, Novartis has been able to realize over $2 million in net benefits from their relatively new program,” Impact Awards judge Chad Brady, a Director at Duke Energy, notes. “Leading with executive sponsorship, distributing innovation materials across the organization, and holding global events like Innovation Day show that they are truly dedicated to ‘reimagining medicine’ and are on the right path to instilling innovation into their culture.”
Initiative: Beyond If — Innovation as a Service
Based in Dallas, the $15B professional services firm Jacobs employs over 50,000 individuals, making it one of the world’s largest providers of professional design, engineering, program management, and project and construction management services.
In 2019, the company launched its enterprise-wide innovation program, called Beyond If, to promote a culture of innovation and inclusion on a global scale. The Beyond If program is behind the new “Innovation as a Service” training and workshops — during which “facilitators foster ideation and concept development using design thinking, lean startup, and business model innovation to help teams identify problems and pitch viable solutions,” according to the awards submission.
According to the award submission, Jacobs Beyond If innovation facilitators have been deployed globally — including in the UK, US, Poland, and Middle East — to reframe problems to help develop innovative solutions. These workshops allow clients to reframe problems to find solutions, which often do not even require new technology. A major highway project in England is an example of one successful session with a client: “Jacobs and the Highway Widening integrated project team used a set of ideation tools to explore if they could carry out their ecology surveys in a new, more cost-effective way. From a single ideation workshop, the team found several new ways to undertake the surveys which resulted in identifying cost reductions of approximately 20 percent,” according to the awards submission.
“Jacobs has concretely demonstrated that they are using innovation to drive value creation for their organization,” Impact Awards judge Chad Brady says. “I was particularly impressed that their reach was collaborative to include their customer base in their Innovation as a Service program. It’s those types of approaches to innovation that ensures it goes well beyond buzzwords and into culture. In under a year’s time, Jacob’s has proven through their innovation workshops that they are capable of extending their contracts pipeline and adding hundreds of thousands of dollars in value creation to their benefit.”
Doosan Bobcat Company
Initiative: Features on Demand
The Bobcat Company, a subsidiary of the Doosan Group in South Korea, is most known for its ubiquitous farm and construction equipment, branded with the “Bobcat” name. The Bobcat Company has been the leading name in the compact equipment industry since the skid steer loader was invented in the 1960s by creators Cyril and Louis Keller, who called the machine the “Bobcat.”
And now, the Bobcat Company is revolutionizing the field once again with its new “Features on Demand” subscription service tool, which comes with its newest compact loader line. Bobcat compact loaders have long been customizable, but now customers can decide when they want to turn on up to five pre-installed advanced features — high-flow auxiliary hydraulics, 2-Speed travel, reversing fan, dual-direction bucket positioning and automatic ride control — with an app. This lowers the upfront cost for customers if they do not need to use all of the advanced features initially, but gives them the option to later begin using the advanced hardware after paying a subscription fee. It also eliminates the need to get in and out of the vehicle to turn certain pieces of hardware “on” and “off.”
Previously, these five features needed to be requested by customers in advance. Now that every new machine comes equipped with the necessary hardware for the features, waiting time for customers has been reduced. The new machines and app also come with an introductory trial period that lasts 20 hours, giving customers the option to try each of the advanced features before subscribing to any of them.
Features on Demand is a patent pending technology solution exclusively developed by Bobcat Company.
Equinor, a petroleum refining company that doubles as the largest company based in Norway with over 20,000 employees worldwide, is a market leader in cutting-edge oil and gas innovations. However, one of the company’s biggest innovations of the year is thanks to a startup called Fieldmade with less than 10 employees, according to its LinkedIn.
In 2019, Fieldmade applied to the Equinor & Techstars Energy Accelerator. The startup specializes in developing mobile microfactories with 3D printing capabilities — a technology that “addressed one of Equinor’s biggest pain points,” according to the award submission.
As a company that relies on large, hard-to-store, expensive equipment, Equinor needed a solution for when small parts break, rendering large pieces of machinery unusable. “Replacing an entire electromotor just because the manufacturer no longer had a part for the attached cooling fan meant replacing one and a half tons of equipment,” explains Brede Lærum, Head of the 3D Printing Implementation Initiative at Equinor. With Fieldmade’s technology, just the broken part can be recreated locally — reducing the cost of storage and carbon footprint of the equipment exponentially.
This collaboration also led to Fieldmade growing its capabilities and offerings to include a digital inventory. “During the three-month accelerator, Fieldmade saw firsthand how much Equinor could benefit from a comprehensive digital inventory system that included all parts of the value chain — suppliers, additive manufacturers, IP holders,” the submission reads. “Fieldmade’s software ties capacities together so that additive manufacturing (3D printing) factories can do licensed production on behalf of the IP owners.”
Adtalem Global Education
MVP: Julian Morris
Julian Morris, Vice President of Enterprise Innovation at Adtalem Global Education, has been with the education company since 2017. Adtalem Global Education, formerly the DeVry Education Group, is a Chicago-based corporation that operates for-profit educational institutions. It employs 6,700 people, according to its website.
Morris, who leads the company’s Innovation Center of Excellence, is responsible for implementing a number of transformative innovation policies at the company, including: establishing an innovation framework and creating process for bringing ideas into production, conducting innovation competitions to foster employee engagement and drive business results, launching a comprehensive incentive program that provides awards to employees for innovation contributions, implementing an emerging technology scouting program, setting up monthly innovation education webinars with guest speakers, conducting hackathons, and more.
Under his leadership, the innovation team at Adtalem has received awards such as FastCompany’s 2020 Innovation Team of the Year and Innovation Leader’s 2019 Impact award.
MVP: Christy Anderson
When Christy Anderson joined Banner Health in 2017 to lead one of the health care giant’s three innovation teams, she had big plans for her team. By 2019, Anderson had managed to unify the three teams into one, dubbed the Banner Innovation Group (BIG), and began leading the team as its Executive Director. This new supergroup came with expanded capabilities, and in addition to designing prototypes from within BIG, she also was able to focus on direct investment and commercialization as well as shifting culture and corporate strategy.
Anderson’s impact at her organization — which is the biggest employer in Arizona and one of the largest in the country at over 50,000 employees — is evident both culturally and numerically. According to her nomination, her “ardent emphasis on her team’s culture has consistently placed her in the top 5 percent of the company’s leadership effectiveness and team engagement measures.”
Furthermore, under her leadership, BIG has tested nearly 100 distinct innovation projects across emergency, inpatient, outpatient, specialty, and ambulatory care. Four of these projects have successfully gone through the process of scaling across the enterprise.
Anderson’s team also revamped the company’s Highest and Best Use awards program in a collaboration with the Banner Health Foundation. “The Foundation awards $4.25 million to the most impactful ideas proposed by Banner Health employees, and BIG redesigned the show to follow a Shark Tank-style format of quick pitches,” her award submission reads. “More than 85 percent of those attending rated it a 5 out of 5.”
MVP: Jeanette Uddoh
Jeanette Uddoh joined Access Bank — the largest bank in Nigeria, and Africa’s leading bank by customer base — in 2013 as an assistant branch manager, and has been working her way up the ranks consistently ever since. In February of 2019, Uddoh was promoted to Head of Innovation at the bank, and was charged with leading the company’s innovation journey and creating an innovative culture.
Since beginning her new role, Uddoh has hosted a first-of-its-kind innovation session at the company where employees were able to share ideas using a design thinking approach. She also launched a series of innovation-related newsletters, to provide monthly updates to the rest of Access Bank’s employees, leading to improved engagement in innovation, according to the award nomination. Furthermore, Uddoh created an automated process for submitting functional initiatives internally. “The automated process improved collation, reporting, benefit tracking, and clearer impact of initiatives in the Bank’s bottom-line,” her nomination reads.
In addition to encouraging engagement, Uddoh also organized master classes to educate about the innovation process.
MVP: Stephen Taylor
Jacobs’ innovation program Beyond If — a winner of a 2020 “Best New Initiative” award from Innovation Leader — helps create a culture of innovation by conducting workshops and training sessions, led by “innovation facilitators,” to teach internal teams how to reframe problems to find innovative solutions. One of these facilitators is Stephen Taylor, Jacobs Operations Management Director, who has been recognized by colleagues for the role he plays in innovation education both internally and externally.
Taylor delivered 10 workshops within the first five months of the program, and has another 15 planned, according to his award nomination. He’s conducted workshops for both clients and Jacobs employees. Topics have included: COVID-19 client challenges and opportunities across the international defense, security and nuclear industries; a water industry digital solution minimum viable product design sprint; an internal project performance key metrics improvement effort; and the innovation transformation of a major science and technology client.
“Jacobs is fully committed to an innovation culture that delivers a tangible difference, and everyone in the organization is expected to play their part,” Taylor says. “The role of the facilitation team is critical to enabling a rapid start and multiplying capability.”
The 2020 Impact Award Judges
Tim Gorman, Associate Director, Verizon Innovation Centers and 5G Labs
Chad Brady, Director, Duke Energy Corporation
Lana Caron, Innovaiton Lead, Phillips Ventures
Azin Nezami, Director, Innovation and External Research, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Michelle Cohen, Director, Innovation & Acceleration, CME Group
Cheryl Reed, Chief Innovation Officer, Dover Corporation
Shanker Sahai, Manager, Innovation Enablement Team, LogMeIn
Dan Wheeler, SVP, Marketing & Innovation, Wahlburger’s
Peter Berger, Director of Business Development, Toyota Research Institute
Alexis Roloff, Director of Innovation, Cambia Health Solutions