All it takes is one good idea to build a company and redefine an industry. We found 20 of them
We’ve come a long way since our inaugural Innovators of the Year competition five years ago. Last year we moved the gala event to a spectacular waterfront room at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the air was electric with the buzz of all those brilliant minds gathered in one room.
The excitement carried over when our Innovators panel met early this year for our 2013 edition. The enthusiasm ramped up as we traded thoughts on the power of innovation. “What’s more important to business than innovation?” asked one panellist, declaring that the Innovators gala should be the blowout event of the year, the Academy Awards of the business community. We couldn’t agree more.
This year’s big lesson? The true mark of innovation isn’t just a good idea; it’s one that can be scaled and replicated. If Reliance Properties had simply renovated a downtown heritage building, offering affordable microloft rentals, that would have been pretty cool. But the real value of the innovation is the level of detail Reliance put into the planning and design so that other cities, including New York, have been able to take a close look and have since announced plans to proceed with similar projects.
Another lesson? Innovation isn’t something you do just once. Weatherhaven Resources had a pretty good business in the 1980s supplying prefab portables for remote mining camps. But when the Canadian military came calling, the company figured out how to pack an Arctic research station into a standard shipping container. Today it supplies militaries around the world with ground satellite stations and field hospitals, all pre-packed in standard shipping containers.
There are plenty more lessons in the Innovator profiles that follow—20 in all. If you’re as inspired as we were, you’ll likely find your company profiled here in years to come.
Reliance redefines urban living with afforable microlofts
Creating prefab office units for remote operations
Helping farmers cut toxins out of pest management
Taking more finance functions mobile
More efficiently tracking times and tasks
On the cutting edge of robotics innovation
A 'green' battery with infinite uses
A growing tech upstart with its head in the cloud
Commercializing biodegradable plastics
Focusing on the future of aboriginal business
Cultivating a charity with a nourishing mission
Carving out an eco-friendly path for mining infrastructure
A mobile alternative to bulky cash registers
Building a successful rent-a-winery model
Taking a collaborative approach to music education
Putting food in the hands of those who need it most
Connecting tourists with volunteer opportunities abroad
Automating land title registrations
Incubating research and development
Connecting the hospitality industry to more qualified employees
A recap of the sights and sounds from our 2013 Top Innovators in B.C. awards gala
All it takes is one good idea to build a company and redefine an industry. BCBusiness found 20 of them in its fifth year celebrating the best innovators in the province.