Canada is falling behind when it comes to innovation, said the head of technology company GE Canada, and it’s up to the country’s businesses to close the gap.
Elyse Allan is the president and CEO of GE Canada.
Elyse Allan, the firm’s CEO, spoke to Ottawa companies Friday morning about ways she believes they can become more competitive when it comes to developing new products and technology.
For a company that is trying to become more innovative, she recommended first coming up with a blueprint for how it wants to achieve profitable growth, then using employees’ ideas to figure out the best way to achieve those goals.
“Put the imagination to work and say, ‘How are we going to get there?’ Do we have product gaps? Do we need to fill adjacencies in our product? Is it perfecting what we have? Is it that, ‘Hey, we’ve saturated this market?’ Do we need to go into a new market?” she said in an interview following her speech.
She had a number of recommendations for how startup or early stage Ottawa companies can reach that level.
One of the main ones involved decreasing the time between when a company first develops an idea and when it first reaches market. This allows a company to get a response from customers as quickly as possible.
“I think with startups it’s about getting to the market fast, getting feedback from the market fast, and not staying in your garage too long,” she said.
“Get it out to market, test it and then be willing to change. Take what you’ve learned from the market and keep pivoting … and change your direction based on your learnings and take it out to market again.”
She also recommended companies do a better job of leveraging the skills and expertise that are available at the country’s post-secondary institutions.
“How do we try and make sure that there’s more of a back and forth between business and that it’s not all having to be driven from the university?” she said.
Ms. Allan spoke Friday morning as part of the Mayor’s Breakfast series, co-organized by OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.