The breakneck speed of innovation is disrupting all industries, changing how people engage with organisations, with one another, and with the world around them. The digitally connected enterprise, and the emerging inter-connected ecosystem, are creating new forces with a power to fundamentally re-align traditional industry value chains and profit pools. In this day and age, innovation is no longer a nice-to-have but a must. Businesses’ competitiveness – even survival – depends on it.
At Tata Communications, we believe that to innovate successfully, organisations must foster an internal culture that embraces curiosity to learn new things and questions the ‘not invented here’ mindset. They should look for opportunities to join forces with the right ecosystem of like-minded partners, innovators and collaborators to co-create new potentially disruptive ideas.
“We see huge value in connecting amazing minds across industries, which can bring about the next big idea that could improve how businesses operate and enrich people’s lives.”
Shaping the future
So, to foster innovation internally, we crowdsource ideas from our employees through our Shape the Future intrapreneurship programme. Now in its sixth year, Shape the Future has seen more than 1,000 ideas submitted from across Tata Communications. They include success stories such as the application-aware networking trailblazer NetFoundry, and our Internet of Things (IoT) business in India – a first-of-its-kind initiative to accelerate IoT adoption in the country, spanning nearly 2,000 communities and touching over 400 million people in total.
We balance our internal innovation focus with collaborations with external start-ups and their founding teams across the Silicon Valley and other global innovation hubs, to source potentially ground-breaking ideas and seek out companies to partner with for joint go-to-market.
“One of the biggest learnings for us from the Shape the Future programme has been that everyone has interesting ideas – all they need is a supportive environment to nurture those ideas and a balanced team with the right mix of technical and commercial skills.”
Turning ideas into reality
That is why we’ve decided to get involved in the Tata Varsity Pitch. Powered by the UK’s National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs (NACUE), it is an annual early-stage pitching competition that celebrates the best businesses exploding out of colleges and universities across the country.
The category that Tata Communications is sponsoring is IDEAS. So, do you have an astonishing idea? Do you believe that your idea will be the next ‘big thing’? This could be your chance to make it real.
Tata is a longstanding supporter of this highly-regarded competition, and in 2019, some of our sister companies across the Tata Group – Tata Global Beverages, TCS and Jaguar Land Rover – are supporting it too through their own categories. This reflects Tata companies’ collective aim to drive innovation and inspire new advances across all industries for the benefit of businesses and communities worldwide.
The top prize for the Tata Varsity Pitch is £15,000 in cash to help get a fledgling business venture off ground, or to turn an initial idea into reality. Not only that, the shortlisted applicants from each category will get to attend a two-day bootcamp with business leaders across industries and experts from the UK’s start-up ecosystem, who will help fine-tune the business pitches ahead of the grand finale on 20th November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
“I firmly believe that true innovation begins with a mindset of curiosity and a desire to learn.”
For innovation to flourish, it needs to be fostered in a supportive and empowering environment that encourages a daring, venturing, responsive, fail-or-scale fast, and inclusive mindset. That environment could be a global business like ours, a university, or an ecosystem of ambitious entrepreneurs.
“Two minds are always better than one, and innovation happens when different ways of thinking come together.”
I’m excited to be part of the team supporting the 2019 Tata Varsity Pitch and helping to shape the next generation of British creative thinkers, inventors and disruptors.
To submit your 60-second video application for the Tata Varsity Pitch, click here.