April 2012

Celebrating innovation

Tata InnoVista is an annual celebration of the innovation effort in the Tata group

With the understanding that the best way to encourage innovation was to create legends and stories around it, make heroes out of people who had dared to do things differently and recognise those people, the Tata Group Innovation Forum launched Tata InnoVista as a rewards and recognition programme for Tata companies.

Started in 2006, Tata InnoVista is a group-wide programme that celebrates the successes and struggles of innovation. The objective is to:

  • Capture innovations of Tata companies to instil self-confidence among Tata managers. (These captured innovations are an excellent way to trigger new ideas in different situations.)
  • Recognise innovators and encourage innovations in companies.
  • Share and learn the levers used by companies to identify and execute innovation projects.
  • Build a culture of appropriate risk taking.

Tata companies participate in the regional rounds, which are held in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Pune, London, New Jersey, Singapore/Thailand and Shanghai, to qualify for the national round. At the regional level, entries are reviewed by non-Tata senior executives.

The finalists are judged by a panel of judges that has included in the past renowned personalities like Dr RA Mashelkar, the former director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; Dr K Kasturirangan, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation; Dr Arun Maira, member of the Planning Commission chaired by the Prime Minister of India, and Kiran Karnik, former chief of Nasscom, among others.

The winners of Tata InnoVista are felicitated on April 26, the birth anniversary of noted Indian mathematician S Ramanujan. The event is webcast to Tata managers around the world.

The participation and popularity of Tata InnoVista has grown from 282 entries from 44 Tata companies in 2008 to 2,852 entries from 71 Tata companies in 2012.

Tata InnoVista winners are awarded in three categories:

Promising innovations honours the most successfully implemented innovations during the year. It has the following sub-categories: service innovations, innovations in core and support functions, business model innovations and green innovations.

The Leading Edge invites entries in two sub categories, namely,

  • Innovative business ideas that have not yet been tried (a set of themes are provided every year to invite innovative ideas).
  • Successfully piloted or proven technologies that hold promise for the future. This emphasises the role played by technologists and researchers in successful innovations.

Dare to try, introduced in 2007, recognises sincere and audacious attempts to create a major innovation that failed to get the desired results. The idea is to encourage the culture of ‘risk taking’, perseverance and sharing openly. This award is a celebration of the spirit that propels individuals and teams to try and innovate and is a reward for the risk-taking capability that is necessary for path-breaking innovation.

An analysis revealed that the main reasons for such failures were technological barriers (50 percent), non-acceptance by the user (26 percent) and commercial non-viability (24 percent).

The initial response to this award was lukewarm as companies, especially in India, were hesitant to share their failures. It is only over the last three years that companies and managers have begun to participate in this category in larger numbers. The entries in this category grew from 12 in 2007 to 87 in 2012.

Also read:
Innovation, which has always been a part of the Tata DNA, has in recent years taken on a fresh impetus with the Tata group’s effort to democratise it and make it a continuous and ongoing process. We feature two companies who have successfully inculcated an innovation ethos in their organisations:
Rallis India: Rooting for innovation
Titan Industries: Looking beyond the obvious