Game Changing Innovations in the Spotlight

By Greg Holden, IRI Business Writer and Social Media Manager

If you were to think back on the last 75 years and compile a list of scientific and technological innovations that had the greatest impact on society, what would they be? Would you only think of the obvious things, like the moon landing and color television? Or perhaps you’re a techie who understands the significance of computer chips, transistors, and the video game Pong. Or maybe you value healthcare, focusing your list on disease eradication, vaccines, and DNA sequencing. Most of all, wouldn’t the mere compiling of this list make you realize that what our industries have done for us is something we may never fully understand or be able to repay? How can we recognize them for these brilliant contributions?

This year is IRI’s 75 anniversary. In honor of our membership’s contribution to science and technology, we have put together a fun competition to showcase their most meaningful innovations from the last 75 years. Take a moment to think of all the technological advancement from the past three quarters of a century. From radios to smartphones; black and white TV and VHS players to high definition video with 3D capable Blu-Ray players; no space program back then to a successful mission to Mars today; electric cars; the Internet; bio and nanotechnology; and on and on the list goes.

As of this morning, 12 companies have submitted their innovations for this tournament and at least 11 more have committed to submitting before the October 20 deadline. Think you can guess what these industries value most from their last 75 years? Take a look through the 12 submissions and find out how their innovations, large and small, have completely altered the quality of your life for the better. Things few people would even think of for their list. Here’s what we have so far:

Procter & Gamble and Monsanto have both submitted innovations which drastically alter the cleanliness and effectiveness of water in regions in need of such innovations, saving millions of lives. Battelle and Xerox share a similar interest in improving office life and work efficiency. Arkema Inc. and USG both contribute to ways of improving sustainability and durability in construction. DSM and Roche Diagnostics are focusing on their life science contributions, improving the human condition. Crown Holdings and Ingersoll Rand have submitted innovations which affect containers and shipping, allowing us to support an ever growing population. And Bell Labs and Ball Aerospace show how even the littlest things can make a big difference.

Really look through the innovations linked to above. Without these contributions to industry and society, where would we be? So many of them make our lives easier, safer, and more rewarding: clean water, refrigerated transport, DNA sequencing, construction efficiency, easy-open jars, and so on. Each and every one of these is vital to us today.

This Tech Tournament is a fun yet double-sided affair. On one side, it is a competition—a tournament, if you will—meant to identify which of these submissions is the most meaningful. But, on the other side, this “competition” is really about giving our members an opportunity to showcase their greatest innovations in order to highlight just how vital they have been to the advancement of science, technology, and human well-being.

For the competition side of this, there is a round of public voting by everyone everywhere already underway. Our select panel of judges will also weigh in and their scores, combined with the first round of public voting, will narrow entries for the “finals.” The last round of public voting will take place during IRI’s Future Summit. Our judges are no strangers to the importance of innovation; Norm Augustine is a retired CEO of Lockheed Martin, Henry Chesbrough an Adjunct Professor & Executive Director for the Center for Open Innovation at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, Mary L. Good is Dean of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Dean Kamen is the founder of DEKA Research & Development Corporation.

For the recognition side of this competition, we are asking IRI member organizations to add your voice. Maybe you’re not the right person in your organization to initiate a proper, authorized submission. If that’s the case, pass this article along to the person or department who is responsible. Make sure your own innovations get a chance to be in the spotlight.

If you’re not from an IRI member company, go look through the submissions already made and cast your vote for the one you find most meaningful. Spread the word: we hope to recognize industry for its monumental achievements and to do that we need your votes! Put yourself in the shoes of our Tech Tournament judges after looking through the entries and ask yourself: Wouldn’t you want to be in their place? How cool would it be to learn more about these innovations and others like them, voting alongside our prestigious judge’s panel as we honor and recognize these contributions?

If your organization has not yet submitted to our Tech Tournament and would like to, what are you waiting for? It’s easy: click here. No doubt every R&D organization has an innovation worth submitting; how else could they call themselves and R&D organization? Think of this friendly competition as a way to broadcast your company’s contribution to the world, underlining the relevance and importance not only of scientific discovery and industrial R&D, but also of the very human and societal element of your work.

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