Why innovation is the key to a smarter tomorrow

1 july 2016
Innovation is the key to creating smart cities, to turning bio-resources into energy, to promoting alternative, more sustainable forms of consumption and to building new economic models.
Innovation is at the core of what drives us as a company. Through innovation we support our customers to achieve their goals by providing solutions tailored to specific challenges. 

In the latest Veolia Blog, Alicia Alford speaks to Philip Abraham (MSc PhD MEnvLocalGov Law),  Senior Vice President, Veolia Research and Innovation, and Simon Wilson, Research and Innovation Manager, Veolia Australia and New Zealand, to find out why innovation is the key to a smarter tomorrow.

AA: Why is innovation important?

SW: Issues related to water, energy and waste management will affect the future of everyone on this planet. Successfully rising to the challenge of resource scarcity in the face of growing demand hinges on the creation of new environmental services that span all of these fields – this will only be achieved through innovative thinking and application.

AA: What does innovation contribute to business?

PA: Be it the improvement of productivity or the development of business, innovation is key. In the current context of the difficult economic environment, differentiation is essential and innovation is the vehicle that provides the opportunities to create unique solutions which are sustainable.
SW: In industry, innovation allows customers to achieve their goals by reducing carbon footprints and staying a step ahead of more stringent regulations. It also provides them with solutions tailored to specific challenges: wastewater treatment and recovery; the development of high-performance treatment systems for industrial process water; monitoring and treatment solutions for atmospheric emissions from sites; treatment of solid waste; maintenance, cleaning and materials recovery solutions for facilities; energy performance in industry.

AA: Is there a uniquely Australia and New Zealand approach to innovation?

PA: Australia and New Zealand have recognised the importance to innovate. The Australian and New Zealand emphasis on innovation is strongly focused on the need to have practical solutions to meet the challenges of clients, with as short time to implement as possible.
SW: I agree. While in Australia and New Zealand we have strong connections to global innovation networks we take a very practical approach and focus on local conditions.

AA: Innovations can be big and small.  Research can be applied or blue sky. What differences are you seeing in their application?

PA: Incremental, disruptive, breakthrough or game changer innovations are all important in their own way, linked to market impact and technology progress. While the “smaller” innovations are more frequent, the “bigger” ones are discovered less often, but have a greater individual impact.
SW: Innovation is central to how we tackle the big challenges we are facing. We need to integrate both big and small innovations to create the environment needed for change. Unique solutions which provide better ways to do things, more sustainable ways are just as important as the game changers in creating a smarter tomorrow.

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