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Innovation judge Bonnie Dean writes a guest blog for us

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Advice, Innovation, Judges

Bonnie Dean.

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise are an impressive recognition for the organisations which achieve them.

People often assume that only businesses can apply, but the awards are open to any organisation, small or large, which meets the criteria of the category. I am aware of a charity that is considering making an application this year. They are investing heavily in the development assisted living technologies to enable severely disabled people to live more independently and may be able to demonstrate how they have innovated for broad scale social benefit.

However, it is often the smallest organisations which benefit the most from achieving a Queen's Award so it is important to raise awareness amongst SMEs and smaller organisations. The Queen’s Award team have been working hard to make the application process accessible and easy to use. The 30 September 2015 is the deadline for the 2016 Awards and I hope we will see a significant rise in applications across all categories.

In many award winning businesses the combination of receiving the award and the use effective PR and marketing accelerates the commercial success of a company. It raises profile in chosen markets, it gives confidence to suppliers and customers to build long term relationships, and it signals that status quo solutions are not good enough. The commitment to investment in innovation speaks volumes about the company’s ambition for growth. It demonstrates so much more than just innovation. It demonstrates a corporate mind set for delivering value. It has been very encouraging to see an increasing number of previous winners reapply and win again, often as a much larger and successful businesses.

I have been privileged to be involved as a panel member for the innovation category and have found it a very rewarding experience. The assessment process is rigorous. It is only the organisations which can supply the quality of evidence that make it through to the final panel review.

When I am reviewing an organisation I look for evidence in several areas and to see that the innovation is not purely serendipitous. These include the financial impact of the innovation on overall financial performance, a structured approach such as evidence of planning and budgeting for innovation activities, scalability of the innovation and recognition of end user needs. Scalability is a critical factor as it is often crucial to an organisation’s ability to take advantage of their investment in innovation.

This is an exciting and inspiring time to be involved in the Innovation Panel. The internet of things opens up new possibilities for all organisations from changing how they work to the creation of new and innovative products and services.

I still believe that one thing is certain, innovation can be one of the primary ways in which an organisation differentiates itself from the competition and those that don’t do it risk being left behind.

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