I constantly scan the business news looking for innovation I can relate to. Sadly it seems that if you are not writing code for a new app, you’re not innovating. Okay maybe there’s an exception if you are splicing a mouse gene into an apricot. But the news just doesn’t pick up on the vast variety of dynamic industries that are generating billions of dollars and all the innovations behind them.
Let’s start with cosmetics. It’s an industry often seen as lightweight, not doing anything particularly important. But it has proven to be an industry with an endless appetite for “new”. Sometimes it’s new branding. Sometimes it’s a new concept. But often now it’s new technology. The amount of innovation going on in the cosmetics industry is mind-boggling. We have better products than we’ve ever had. We now have technology that can screen out the sun’s harmful rays better, that can moisturize your skin better, and even technologies now that can repair damaged skin. It has become almost impossible to keep up on the constant innovations in this industry. Successful start-up companies are being gobbled up by multinationals like never before. We are hearing they are going for 10 times revenue, yes that’s revenue. What’s not innovative about all this?
And that leads to medical devices. This category includes everything from bandages to implantable cardiac pacemakers. Innovation here is huge. Have you been hearing about robotic surgeries? How about the new blood glucose monitors for diabetics? No need to prick your finger anymore, hold the sensor up to your skin. In fact there is a whole category of biosensing wearables. Monitor your bodily functions with what is basically a watch. How about navigation equipment for the blind? We now have high-tech baby monitors that tell you a lot more than are they screaming! The amount of exciting work in this category is endless, but sadly I read very little about it in the business news.
Which leads me to want to yell at the top of my lungs: for students going through high school, college and university, get away from your laptop and step into a laboratory. This used to be the way innovation was always conducted. And a great deal of it still is. We’re just not talking about it enough.