We Do Need More Heroes

I beg to differ with the sentiment of the Tina Turner classic – We Don’t Need Another Hero – especially when it comes to the Northern Ireland innovation scene. The problem is we don’t have enough of them, and believe me it is not because we don’t produce enough innovation entrepreneurs who deserve hero status.

The reality is for too long we have not celebrated the success of local innovators who have trailblazed the way, established industry and created wealth here, based on their enterprising and innovative spirit and talents. I accept that this is partly to do with the inbred Northern Ireland modesty and the tendency to hide our light under a bushel, but that is not the whole story. As a society we have not done enough to recognise these people and to celebrate their achievements and contributions.

At this year’s NISP CONNECT 25K Awards we are setting out to change this, with the inaugural Innovation Founder Awards designed to honour Northern Ireland’s most successful science and technology entrepreneurs who have founded successful companies here and helped put NI innovation on the map.

We are currently looking for nominations of people who have acted on their innovations, taken the calculated risk to set up companies and succeeded. People who can become heroes to the next generation. People like Professor John Anderson. At last year’s awards we decided to honour this leading local medical engineering entrepreneur for his contribution and dedication to the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation in Northern Ireland and he delivered an inspiring keynote address at the awards. Professor Anderson was a key member of the team at the Royal Victoria Hospital that created the world’s first defibrillators and recognising the commercial potential he took this life saving technology to market. Today, John is best known as founder and Chief Technology Officer of HeartSine® Technologies Inc., a world leader in life-saving defibrillation therapy. He is also a founder of Intelesens, the manufacturer of world-leading body-worn vital sign monitoring devices based here in Belfast.

The positive feedback we received about this award showed us the value of recognizing and celebrating such innovation founders and we decided to launch a more formal award to do just that. As well as receiving the award this year’s recipient will be a keynote speaker at the 25k Awards gala dinner in September where he or she will address a gathering of over 250 members of the local business and research communities. We also intend to promote them via our website and use them in our various programmes to encourage and inspire. We know there are plenty of worthy recipients out there and we are keen to encourage nominations through http://www.nisp.co.uk/innovationfounders before the end of July.
Interestingly when you look at the Top 10 shortlist for this year’s 25K awards, which is designed to identify, qualify, prepare and present the best knowledge-based ideas with the most commercial potential from the publicly funded research base in Northern Ireland, we have a strong leaning towards the life-sciences and bio-technology in particular. There are range of companies featured which are involved in biomedical industries including animal vaccines, cancer diagnostics and heart disease treatment, as well as a number of other health related innovations . See http://www.nisp.co.uk/Connect/25k-award_174.aspx Perhaps we can attribute this surge in life-sciences innovation in some way to the recognition given to John Anderson last year, proving the importance of celebrating our unsung heroes. What we do know is that it is critical that we inspire the next generation of innovators to step forward and realise their dreams and what better way than to showcase those who have gone before…or to borrow another Tina Turner classic – to recognise Simply the Best !


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  1. […] here to see the original: We Do Need More Heroes « Norman's Blog Share […]

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