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Thoughts on Innovation – Anne Toner Fung

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Anne Toner Fung 
Executive Director, Innovation Guelph 

Anne is a lifelong champion of entrepreneurship. She has experienced business and social enterprise from all sides with more than 20 years of business and organizational development in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Prior to joining Innovation Guelph, Anne owned and operated several businesses and subsequently brought that experience to bear as an independent consultant helping small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) accelerate growth and overcome operational challenges. She currently serves on the Smart Cities Steering Committee for Guelph/Wellington, the Board of Directors for Hospice Waterloo Region, the Alectra/Guelph Hydro GRE&T Centre Transitional Advisory Board, and the Manufacturing Committee of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. 

 Anne is a certified financial planner (CFP), certified human resource’s leader (CHRL), and holds an Executive MBA from Queen’s University. As a former business owner, management executive, co-founder and angel investor, Anne brings a multi-faceted perspective to Innovation Guelph that fuels her passion for helping businesses start, grow and thrive

What is your definition of “innovation”?

In the context of our work here at Innovation Guelph, innovation requires a combination of creativity, development and commercialization. Effective innovation involves surfacing new ideas in response to (or in anticipation of) needs, wants, gaps and challenges in the market—and then executing on those ideas to create value.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Innovation and new technology adoption are important to companies because customer expectations and the marketplace are continually evolving. Customer-centred innovation of products, services, business models and processes will help a business stay aligned with its customers and remain competitive in the face of disruptive change. Companies must innovate, or they will stagnate because global connectivity and competition leave no room for complacency.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation?

Don’t leave innovation to chance. Develop an innovation strategy and define the internal activities and processes needed to make it happen. Integrate those activities and processes into daily workflows and resource them appropriately. Most importantly, create an environment that fosters experimentation, continuous learning and failing forward.

When it comes to investing in new technology, first make sure the decision is driven by a strategic business goal; then research the best option for achieving that goal. Finally, invest the time and resources needed to ensure broad adoption of the new technology so it generates the desired results.

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