Why Houston needs to break down its industry barriers to advance innovation
Innovation has always been the driving force behind progress and development in every industry. It is the engine that propels growth, fosters competition, and improves people’s lives. The importance of innovation in every sector has grown exponentially in recent years with new ideas and technologies emerging faster than ever before. This explosion has led to innovation silos, where each industry is developing its own innovations and making progress in isolation from the others.
Houston has embraced the rise of innovation with gusto and is a prime city to break down industry specific silos. We proudly host the largest medical center and the energy capital of the world as well as the headquarters for the space race. The mayor’s office has shown a strong commitment to support rapid innovation growth, providing incentives and infrastructure for technology companies and talent to reside in Houston. Our city’s emerging innovation district has already shown huge promise with the Ion building and Greentown Labs providing a strong foundation to expand. Organizations uniting innovators across all industries like Pumps & Pipes could only exist in a city as diverse and accessible as Houston. Nonetheless, our community needs to band together to ensure innovation growth is inclusive of all industries to create an equitable approach to technology that will continue to benefit generations to come.
While innovation silos may have some benefits, such as competition and differentiation, they also have some significant drawbacks, including inefficiencies, redundancies, and missed opportunities. Industries can become so focused on their own innovations that they fail to see the potential for cross-industry collaboration. Many examples exist today where certain technologies or practices were once reserved for specific use cases and now have become mainstream. For instance, the use of the common GPS network for location and navigation services was originally pioneered by NASA, and hospital safety and quality checklists were derived from the airline industry. By soliciting more opportunities for innovation sharing, we can achieve faster growth, implement stronger and safer processes, and reduce repetitive and costly pilot testing in every industry from energy, health care, finance, social impact, and more.
I am putting out a call to action to the Houston community to open your doors to cross-industry partnerships.
Engage in more open dialogue and information sharing outside your industry.
Attend events that bring together professionals from all industries for knowledge sharing and idea exchange. Many conferences, workshops, and meet-ups already exist to unite and recognize cross-industry communities within specific interest groups. In addition, startup accelerators, incubator programs, and collaborative workspaces provide unique environments that encourage spontaneous conversations and positive idea exchange.
Incentivize businesses, start-ups, and individuals who are willing to collaborate and share their ideas with others.
Knowledge sharing should be rewarded through recognition programs, awards, special partnership opportunities, and more. Professional organizations and leadership networks are a great place to turn to for connecting with like-minded individuals and identifying recognition opportunities that can promote the great work of experience sharing.
Commit investments in cross-industry research and development.
We need to create more incentives for researchers to work across different industries and apply their expertise to various fields. Examples like the Ion Prototyping Lab, a one-of-a-kind makerspace for all, and events at the upcoming Ion Activation Festival, including “Back to the Future of Innovation”, unite researchers with industry to encourage collaborative collisions.
In the end, breaking down innovation barriers is essential if we want to continue on this upward, fast-growth trend to improve our community and to make an impact in people’s lives across the world. We need to take action now to promote a more seamless cross-industry approach to knowledge sharing, collaboration, and research and development to create a better future for all.
Arielle Rogg is the principal and founder of Rogg Enterprises LLC, a Houston-based company providing digital marketing for health care innovators.