2018 Innovative Business of the Year Finalists

2018 Innovative Business of the Year Finalists

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AFISHIONADO FISHMONGERS

How can Halifax become leaders in innovation?
I think we need to tackle the serious conversation about government regulations in the natural resources sector in Nova Scotia. There has been a real lack of innovation because the “ship it raw” model has worked so well in the past. We have an opportunity to add more value here in Nova Scotia, which would create economic returns and more jobs, yet current regulations make it very difficult for any other model to emerge. I’d like to see our leaders make the steps to show their commitment in this area.

How can we engage youth to become innovative leaders?
I’m proud to say that we have three employees working with us who are a part of the provincial Graduate to Opportunity program. Their enthusiasm, skill-sets and knowledge help propel us forward. We have amazing post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia and by engaging in research projects and hosting internships for students; we’re able to make ourselves known to students and recent graduates. It’s given us a great pool of talent to reach from.

Why did you choose Halifax?
Since the traditional fisheries sector is focused on export models, the local market in Halifax was primed for a disruption in the seafood space. Locals also want access to our highest quality seafood before it’s exported. With all our post-secondary institutions finding great people who share your passion has made making it a reality a lot more fun.

BLUELIGHT ANALYTICS

What inspired your company’s innovation efforts?
BlueLight’s dedication to innovation was fostered early through initial research and development at Dalhousie University, which is where BlueLight’s MARC Patient Simulator was invented. This innovative spirit did not diminish as BlueLight transitioned into a separate company and it continues to be a cornerstone of the business. It has enabled the company to develop a suite of proprietary technology that provides crucial insight to dental manufacturers, researchers and clinicians.

What advice would you give to another business that wants to embrace innovation?
Innovation should not be static — it should be responsive to the dynamic problems and issues of the world around us. This involves more than just a new idea, it means investing in research and development, embracing failure and being prepared to adapt and evolve, all the while being mindful of the needs and wants of the customer.

What is your definition of innovation?
Innovation is a byproduct of hard work, vision and belief. It isn’t enough to have a great idea, you need to have a great idea and a vision of what that will look like, belief that you and your team can achieve it and you must put in the hours to turn your vision into a reality. Creating an innovative solution that has a transformational impact on its users requires working smartly and constantly strategizing what your next steps are going to be and how you are going to get there.

NAUTEL

What inspired your company’s innovation efforts?
Innovation was the genesis of Nautel’s original success, dating back 48 years ago, with the invention of the world’s first solid-state navigational beacon. That success was quickly followed by the world’s first commercially successful AM radio transmitters and then solid-state FM radio transmitters. We compete in an extremely competitive global market and innovation has been key to our success. Today, all 10 of the top 10 revenue-producing broadcast companies in the U.S. now use Nautel.

What is something new that’s happening at your company?
The world’s most powerful radio transmitter. Nautel recently designed and built a garage-sized high-power combiner that adds the outputs of five separate Nautel 400kW transmitters to achieve the world’s most powerful AM radio output. At two megawatts, this power presented a considerable engineering challenge and an innovative approach. Transmitter expertise has been passed to a new generation of designers, thus continuing our heritage of innovation and drawing on the lessons learned in the preceding four decades.

If you had the resources, what is the one thing you would change about your business?
The nut that feeds innovation at Nautel is power electronics research and development. This work is somewhat speculative in nature because it means pursuing technology paths that may or may not pan out. More resources would let us pursue more of these paths, some of which might be riskier approaches, but with higher potential rewards.

How can Halifax become leaders in innovation?
We have all the ingredients. Our resourceful mentality, universities, a vibrant entrepreneurial sector and our world outlook give us the foundation. I’m great believer in the Ivany Report. We need to make sure that we keep that thinking alive.

SQUIGGLE PARK

What inspired your company’s innovation efforts?
Our business was founded on innovating the way children learn to read. After being in the classroom as a volunteer reading teacher I quickly realized how critical it was that kids loved the content they were learning. Julia had a similar experience with her kids. But each child is different, and the educational tool available must support those differences, and technology has the profound power to do just that.

What is your organization’s proudest moment?
When Indigo’s Heather Reisman invested in us, it was a proud day. It reinforced to us that great leaders understand how critical it is to improve literacy, and that great strides can be made in that area through technology like Squiggle Park. That said, the first time we watched children use our program and saw them learning in front of our eyes, that has to be the greatest accomplishment to date.

How can Halifax become a leader in innovation?
There are three things. Firstly, I think it’s critical that we continue to fund organizations like Volta and CDL. Second, make it extremely easy for companies to hire immigrants and keep them in Halifax. Thirdly, continue to foster relationships between universities and entrepreneurs to collaborate and commercialize their innovations, facilitating more funding and more opportunities to connect.

How can we engage youth to become innovative leaders?
I think there is a fundamental change that needs to happen in education to foster an ecosystem of ideas that keeps children’s imaginations strong. Investing in activities that encourage curiosity, as much as logic and reason, is critical. To ensure we don’t curb wondering and daydreaming.

THIRD WAVE CONSULTING

What is your organization’s proudest accomplishment?
Third Wave is a boutique consulting firm in an arena with some heavy-hitters. The fact that we continue to hold our own, grow our team and geography and be part of key conversations with the big industry players, is something we celebrate. We are incredibly proud to be known as North America’s leading implementer of Salesforce for the energy sector. We have worked with the “A-listers” in this arena and love partnering with these key players and helping them optimize their businesses. We have also been recognized as the Most Promising O&G Technology Solution Providers by CIO Review in 2017.

What advice would you give to another business that wants to embrace innovation?
As a consulting company, no advice is ever free, but this is something we are happy to share: Don’t be scared of innovation — embrace it! It’s exciting and will bring out the best in you. Be open to the new ideas and fun that innovation brings to the table. Don’t spin your wheels on analysis paralysis. Making the decision to be innovative is the easy part. Having the conviction and commitment to be able to constantly pivot is the key. Be ready to handle setbacks, but don’t overanalyze. Focus on your specialty. Don’t try and be everything to everybody. Play in your arena, and you will generate success from focusing on your area of expertise.

What is your definition of innovation?
Innovation is being aware of the opportunities and having the courage to tackle them. You must have an awareness of
a specific situation, a need or a problem that requires a solution. From there, you force yourself to think differently about solving it. There has got to be a better way. This is where innovative thoughts come from. Then you find the courage to take risks to develop new and innovative solutions and ideas. Being observant in all situations allows you to innovate. Finding the right problem to solve and looking at problems as opportunities — that’s innovation.

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