Innovation Live!: Innovation is about more than new technology

Virtual reality headsets and holograms will show directors and senior managers from seven sectors into the next realm of innovation this week at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. But leaders must learn that true transformation arises from a special way of thinking…

A traditional conference includes name badges and a PowerPoint presentation – if you’re lucky. Innovation Live! however, practices what it preaches and prides itself on its unconventionality.

Directors and senior managers will first find themselves entering the event at Jumeirah Beach Hotel on Monday, November 21 through a futuristic Hyperloop tunnel, the first of its kind in the world. Virtual reality headsets will transport delegates into future smart homes, and LiFi (light fidelity) stations that use LED lights as wireless routers will be dotted across the innovation arena.

‘When you talk about innovation’, says Sikander Ejaz, head of marketing at MEED, the Middle East business intelligence agency running the event in partnership with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ‘the thing that comes to mind is technology.

‘That is definitely an enabler but innovation is actually all about how you tackle problems and approach different challenges', he says, impressing that care has been taken to populate the Inspiration Stage with more than 20 international innovators who subscribe to a specific, progressive leadership style, such as Gill Bejerano, genomics associate professor at Stanford University.

Redefining thought patterns

Bejerano discovered ultra conservation, a region of DNA that is identical in two different species, and publishes seminal works on the evolution and function of human gene regulation. He currently solves the genomes of very sick children and studies the efficacy of gene therapy cures.  He is an innovator because he ‘redefines how we think’, said Ejaz.

‘It’s about getting people to understand something different and accept it. The type of speakers that we have at Innovation Live question the world around them and even question themselves.’

Subverting the status quo is exactly what inventor and scientist Jack Andraka did when he developed a promising early detection test for pancreatic cancer that costs three American cents and takes five minutes to run as a high school student. Also speaking is the former chief evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawaski, who was one of the individuals responsible for marketing the Macintosh computer line in 1984.

Other impressive speakers include His Excellency Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Maytha Al Habsi, deputy CEO of Emirates Foundation.

Finding solutions for local business

‘When you look at the Dubai market it’s really concentrated, technology in particular is such a saturated market. MEED is a business intelligence company that identifies what gaps businesses have and what kind of challenges the government is facing, giving solutions for them’, said Ejaz. ‘There needs to be someone in the middle connecting public and private bodies, bring them together.’

In June, he said, an advisory board of public and private sector leaders met to feedback on the current state of the market in order to shape an ‘unbiased agenda’ for the November conference that is split into three segments. ‘We are not going down the route of conventional PowerPoints.'

At the Inspiration Stage, you ‘sit listen and leave inspired’, Ejaz says. ‘You leave thinking “how can I change things and the way I conduct my business?” Change comes from the top and we make sure we are speaking to right people to address the audience.’

On the agenda

‘Inspiring the Vision’ is the first official segment of the day with an opening keynote from Her Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy, the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, that explains how Expo 2020 Dubai will make the UAE one of the most innovative nations in the world when combined with the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy.

Speakers addressing how to embrace the art of innovation and collaborate to deliver a smart and efficient ecosystem will complete the morning before tours of the Official Experience Innovation Zone Tour to take participants on a ‘journey of mental, physical and sensory inspiration’ take place.

‘We want people to come and experience and engage’, said Ejaz. 

The second theme of the day is ‘Sustainability, the digital world and innovation ecosystems’, and focuses on how big data and technology is driving progress in genomic medicine discoveries to fight disease, the smart building revolution for smart cities and revolutionary transport options such as Hyperloop.

Finally but crucially, ‘A Sneak Peak into the Future’ will explore how to ‘crowdsource’ the future and utilise innovative, collaborative concepts to solve global problems and how to stimulate creative and entrepreneurial leadership and thinking at an individual and organisational level.

There are also a series of Bootcamp passes available for technical sessions with expert innovators in a closed door roundtable setting that addresses current market needs and help to transform businesses.