How can we foster innovation? And for which purpose …

12/20/2013  |  Interview, News | Trends

Mark Smith - Executive Director at EY

Mark Smith – Executive Director at EY

Innovation is no end in itself. It is crucial for long-term success of organizations, societies and economies that are facing transformational change. But how can we drive innovation? How can we manage it? And what is needed to turn transformation into sustainable growth? What are the key-drivers of transformation, today and in the future? We asked Mark Smith about EY’s role at CODE_n at CeBIT, one of the world’s leading startup programs, fostering innovation and revolutionary IT business models.

Janina Benz: To start with a basic question, why does EY partner with CODE_n?

Mark Smith: Today, economies and organizations are subject to fundamental transformation that will significantly accelerate in the future. The ongoing data revolution, Big Data in short, is a key driver of transformational change that will impact all important industry sectors – from Health, Automotive, Finance, Environment, Energy to IT,  Retail and Consumer, Telecommunications and various others. CODE_n is a unique platform seeking to connect established companies, SMEs and mezzanine investors with young, pioneering IT-entrepreneurs whose ideas have the potential to drive the data revolution – for partnering, investment, acquisition and mutual interest.

JB: Speaking of mutual interest … how would you define it?

MS: Although big data is on the minds of executives and CIOs around the world, it sometimes still seems to be unclear how to mine and manage it for sustainable growth. Established companies have a vast experience in their business sectors, but they definitely need fresh input of technology innovators to be able to compete in a future that will be driven or at least strongly supported by big data. On the other hand, pioneering ideas need investment. CODE_n is a perfect platform to connect both sides, to bridge the gap between the demand for innovation and the suppliers of innovative ideas and concepts.

JB: What is EY’s role in the CODE_n process?

MS: In addition to our global partnership with CODE_n, we play a major role in selecting and evaluating highly innovative IT business models that have the chance to survive and prosper in the market in the long term, and to develop into attractive investments. Here, we profit from our expertise and experience gained in our “Entrepreneur of the Year” contest and proprietary methodology developed and used in our advisory practice, allowing us to develop best-practice selection criteria and to enable the whole CODE_n selection process.  Furthermore, we help organize and communicate this groundbreaking event, and provide visitors with the opportunity to discuss with EY experts how big data has the potential to impact and transform their own business models. Adding to the afore-mentioned, we help startups to further mature and grow their business operations and we assist potential investors in respective evaluation, selection and acquisition activities.

JB: So, you follow a greater vision and purpose when partnering programs like CODE_n?

MS: Definitely. We see it as our mission to support both established industry players and innovative market entrants in driving innovation and progress. At EY, we are deeply convinced that the world works better when business works better. In a better working world, trust increases, so capital flows smoothly and investors make informed decisions. Businesses grow sustainably, employment rises, consumers spend and governments invest in their citizens. This all would be impossible without innovation, particularly in our hemisphere where innovation is the one key competitive differentiator in global competition – as amply demonstrated by many successful “Mittelstand” (SME) companies that are key drivers of the German, Swiss and Austrian economies. Driving and managing innovation is key part of our purpose and CODE_n marks a milestone on our way to build a better working world.

JB: Mr Smith, thank you very much for this interview.