Perspectives: Fostering Innovation

By Marla J. Barnes

In the day-to-day professional lives many of us lead … with pressures to meet profitability targets, comply with regulatory mandates, and continue to do the proverbial “more with less” … the concept of “innovation” can, admittedly, be elusive. My idea of “being innovative” typically consists of trying a new restaurant or taking a different route to work! Really out there, huh?!

Yet, I fundamentally believe the importance and value of innovation cannot be overstated.

On the day I was preparing to write this note, an email in my (very full) Outlook inbox caught my attention. The subject line alluded to the “value of research for economic development.” The purpose of the email was to unveil a brand-new report released by the Council of State Governments and information solutions provider Elsevier, which analyzes the research strengths of the U.S. The announcement stated: “The United States’ long-term economic growth will be determined by its ability to encourage the research and development that fosters innovation.”

Taking the time (and making the investment) to create environments in which innovation can occur is paramount.

Commitments to hydro research and development, which, in turn, foster innovation, must be made if this industry is to see its growth potential become a reality.

In recent months, I had the opportunity to work closely with several researchers to prepare and execute the Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS) –held April 27 to 29, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The purpose of this event was to provide a venue where technical experts can publish and present wave and water current energy research with the intent to help accelerate the pace of technology development.

What a delight it was for me to be able to take a “step away” from the day-to-day deadlines and budget quandaries and learn about exciting innovations coming to life in labs and at universities throughout the world!

These innovators thrive on consuming knowledge and then applying that knowledge to experiment, create, improve and innovate. They are passionate about what they do. As they should be. The work they are doing now is aiding toward establishing a commercial marine hydrokinetics market.

By the way, you can get access to their written reports on the website: Click on the “IMREC & METS Conference Program” button, and follow the instructions for accessing papers.

While the work these innovators is doing is vital, it’s also slow-moving and expensive. Case in point … the article in this issue focusing on Grant County Public Utility District’s commitment to install fish-friendly turbines describes a “decade of research and collaboration among fishery scientists, engineers, utility operators and the U.S. Department of Energy.”

However, there is a “rest of the story.” That decade of investment … and a commitment to innovation … directly led to significant positive economic growth for Grant County PUD (details on pages 24 to 26).

So, what are you doing in your workplace to foster innovation in order to experience economic growth?

It’s worth thinking about!

Marla J. Barnes
Publisher and Chief Editor

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