Why innovate? Our jury members’ perspective

The Accenture Innovation Awards are all about modernization, the latest in tech and change. Innovation; the drive to learn about this area of technology, is crucial if your company wants to survive.

The Accenture Innovation Awards are all about modernization, the latest in tech and change. Innovation; the drive to learn about this area of technology, is crucial if your company wants to survive. Think about it, if you want to be great, you must innovate. Read on to find out what our jury’s perspective on innovation is.


Diederik Karsten, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Liberty Global, claimed that without innovation, the economy wouldn’t grow, cultures wouldn’t change, and we would never discover all the hidden talent around us. What matters to this jury member is people’s drive to improve the societies they live in, and the technology that allows this is of course crucial to make that happen.

Martin Diepeveen, the Education Lead at Microsoft, has a bold statement to make about what innovation means. According to him, innovation in Education happens if four criteria meet. The first criterion is Vision; innovation at schools cannot happen without headteachers having a vision of a new future for their school and kids. Second; Modern Teaching and Learning needs to be implemented in a way that schools not only change their curriculum i.e. what they’re teaching, but also the pedagogy i.e. how they’re teaching. Third; the Environment in Education is crucial too. School buildings need to be adapted so that learning is easier. Next to that, letting kids go outside during their school breaks often also changes the quality of study positively. Fourth; Technology needs to be used optimally to contribute to make learning successful. Combine the four factors together and you should be good to go! 

Carine de Meyere, Senior Investment Advisor & Knowledge Broker at Future Planet Capital, puts people at the core of innovation. They are its drive, she says. To innovate, one needs to invest in children’s education so that the kids are prepared to deal with current and future global challenges. She claims that Education as a theme can only be truly revolutionized when we have innovation on a large scale.

Innovation happens naturally when a society aims to move forward, focusing primarily on its people


To Dirk Lippits, President and Business unit director of DSM, innovation is extremely important. As their company is always on the lookout for new solutions in the food industry, innovation is a great way to get there. For instance, innovation helps them tackle challenges around sugar and salt reduction which helps with sustainability; one of their aims.

Innovation is needed to make food production more sustainable

Joost Matthijssen, Investment Manager at Nutreco, touches on the importance of thinking in terms of sustainability when innovating. He says that there’s no way 10 billion people will be fed by 2050, if we don’t apply innovation in Nutrition. Thinking critically could make food production more sustainable, more efficient and more equitable!

Carl Nagle, the Global Marketing Innovation Director at Jacobs Douwe Egberts, is very happy about living in such a lively digital age. Nagle talks about an “age of acceleration,” where economies are developing at an ever-faster pace, the rate of environmental change is faster than before, and technology is changing the means of serving customers and understanding their needs faster than people can. At the same time, there are currently “remarkably fertile conditions” for companies to set up, scale and get capital, which is forcing creativity and making the corporates disrupt themselves. In a nutshell, working in innovation is really challenging and rewarding at the same time!


Deborah Nas, a Professor of Strategic design for technology-based innovation at TU Delft, has shared her frustration that too many innovators come from a technical background and so the way they talk about a product is something that an average customer doesn’t understand. To her, a successful innovation has its value proposition clear and it’s understandably defined, so that potential customers can get to buy it. In other words, a successful innovation is made relevant to customers.

Just like Karsten and Woesthuis, Jeannine Peek, the General Director of Dell The Netherlands, cannot imagine the world without innovation. Innovation excites everybody’s lives, she says.

If you don’t innovate, you won’t survive



Mathieu Ransijn, Manager Information Risk Management in IT Operations at Shell, was happy to meet new concepts at AIA that have the “wow factor,” as he put it. He was amazed to see innovators who work with existing resources to change the means of doing things in analytics, AI and Machine Learning for instance. What he believes Innovation to be, includes the concept of predictive security which he’d like to see more of. This means that Innovation is for instance being able to predict cyber-attacks or threats in the cloud environment, a task that’s incredibly difficult to achieve because warning about a potential threat before it’s to strike seems rather impossible.

Jaya Baloo, the Chief Information Security officer at KPN, claims that when talking about Innovation, one needs to make a distinction between the two keywords that get easily confused here. Innovation is incremental; it’s a puzzle pioneers need to solve gradually to come up with something groundbreaking. On the other hand, Invention is a sudden discovery, a solution to a problem. This makes inventions seem more exciting, because you come up with a breakthrough solution, while with innovation, it takes time to get to a revolutionary solution.

Innovation is step-by-step, while invention is breakthrough



Henk Bijl, the Managing Director of Smart Grid Services at Accenture, is of the idea that being able to scale your company in such a diverse landscape of companies is key. To him, Innovation Awards are a great platform for initiatives to grow and scale through networking. First, it’s the creativity that must be proven and second, scaling is another important aspect of innovating that not everybody is capable of. That’s why he has compared innovation to industrialization – not everybody is capable of it.

For Anna Collignon, a Lawyer and Partner at Stibbe, what’s essential in innovating is getting together and helping each other out. Corporates, such as Stibbe for the legal matters, can help innovators get through legal obstacles, but more partnerships are needed to truly scale up. Other corporates that can help innovators bring their idea to the market and engage with the public are needed for the innovators to truly get their groundbreaking ideas out there.

You cannot predict the greatest innovations. That’s an open end



Debby Woesthuis, Director of the bus division at GVB, has stated that innovation means progress. She cannot imagine living in an age without innovation taking place. For her, what’s of utmost importance is that we all contribute to a sustainable planet. This is also so that future generations can benefit off inhabiting it, just as much as we do.

Mattijs ten Brink, the Managing Director and Chairman of Transavia, has a completely different perspective on what innovation is. The real breakthroughs, he says, are innovators coming up with an idea that is addressing a problem that we don’t even know about yet. Apple has mastered this by developing their iPhones. To innovate, one needs to look at the world from new perspectives, using the means available to come up with something new. He adds that innovation is comprised of three levels. First, a given business model and process is needed. Next, a new process within the same business model is essential and finally, a level where you have a completely different business model is crucial. You need all three levels to come up with an innovative perspective.

Innovation is either a new solution to an existing problem, or a solution to a problem we don’t know about yet – those are the real breakthroughs



To Ivar Wiersma, Global Head of ING Labs Wholesale Banking, innovation is all about accelerating technological development with big impacts. Why is that? Nowadays, almost everybody can start their own company because the costs for this are very low. Hence, there are now many innovators dealing with quantum computing, cloud and APIs – all these ‘hot’ topics that didn’t exist prior to the technological revolution. Another aspect which shows that innovation has developed is where small companies are starting to gain power, control and resources, which wasn’t the case 100 years ago. As Wiersma says, we’re moving to platform business models and a collaborative ecosystem, where knowledge exchange is encouraged. He’s extremely excited to see where the technological development will bring us, because right now, it’s all happening!

Innovation isn’t in its infancy; it’s developing and there’s a lot more to come

For Dagmar van Ravenswaay Claasen, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Adyen, innovation should always be focused. All pioneers, before getting their hands dirty, should first ask why innovate to know if innovation is something for them. And if it is, then select a specific goal to follow and tackle it today; don’t think about where you’d like to see yourself in a year. By solving the itching problem today, you’ll grow, just like Adyen!

Chris Pope, VP Innovation at ServiceNow, describes Innovation as a process where development happens. He quotes William Pollard saying “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you think you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” Innovation to him means what he sees during the AIA; innovation and learning being alive with no time for arrogance.  

Innovation is a process where easy stuff is done better, hard stuff is understood faster, and people are made happier

Inspired? Some of these perspectives on innovation are relatable, others are rather extraordinary. If one thing is clear, it’s that the jury members cannot imagine their lives without innovation and technological advancement. Some have gone onto exploring the substance of innovation and others have talked about the evolution and the deeper meaning behind what innovation has in store. Aren’t you inspired to contribute to making the world a more dynamic place?!


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