Innovate Carolina, the annual one-day conference of PDMA's Carolinas chapter was held Friday, April 25. This year's conference took place at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park, with the theme, “Building Your Career Toolkit: Innovative Paths for Innovative Development”. Topics included innovation, market research, future trends and insights and new product development trends.
The event attracted over 130 professionals representing product manufacturers as well as service oriented companies, design and engineering firms, innovation consultants and academics. “Attendees commented that the speakers were outstanding, the content was fresh and insightful, and the event overall provided incredible value. Attendees also benefited from discussions with sponsors between sessions,” stated Conference Chair of the event, Jeffrey Phillips.
Dr. R. Keith Sawyer, one of the world's leading scientific experts on creativity, was the opening keynote speaker. Dr. Sawyer is the author of 13 books and over 80 scientific articles, and he combines scientific expertise with a strong hands-on background in real-world creativity. After receiving his computer science degree from MIT, he began his career designing videogames for Atari. His keynote, based on his 2013 book, Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity , presented a research-based, 8-step innovation process.
Garry Golden of Futurethink led a highly stimulating, interactive session on the topic, “How Understanding Future Trends Leads to Better Product Innovations.“
“The Profound Value Proposition of Product Line Roadmapping” was presented by Paul O'Connor of The Adept Group, explaining where product line roadmapping fits within product development processes and the steps to implement the critical practice. Udaiyan Jatar, CEO of Blue Earth Network, and former Global Vice President for Innovation at The Coca-Cola Company, and Doug Powell of Blue Earth, led a session on “Leading Innovation Teams” and provided processes to create transcendent brands.
Additional breakout sessions featured mini-workshops on “Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management” presented by Don Creswell of SmartOrg, “Designing People-Centered Solutions” presented by David Phillips of Faster Glass Consulting, “5 Keys to Doing Market Research Right”” by Riley Kirby of Magellan IMR, “Intellectual Property Strategy for Product Development” by Barry Brager of Perception Partners, and “Product Lifecycle Management Strategies to Improve Your Portfolio” by Joe Dury of Kalypso.
The day concluded with recognition of the impressive work of the Student Innovation Awards competition winners. 10 teams representing Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University entered the competition, and submitted very impressive solutions to real-world problems. In the undergraduate category, The Innervators won for their product, an on-site accurate screening tool for mild traumatic brain injury. Graduate team winner, upStream, developed a personal air quality monitor. Both teams were from NC State.
Nheeda Enriquez, President of the Carolinas Chapter, noted, “For the fifth year in a row, we had high praise from participants on valuable content and impressive speaker presentations. It's a great annual conference for professionals, academics, and consultants to engage in topics around the changing trends in product development, whether they be based in the Carolinas or not.”