Successful innovation is not just about coming up with great ideas. It is the ability to take those great ideas, ensuring they add significant value to all users and can be applied to create tangible organisational and business impact. The Irish Times InterTradeIreland Awards are about recognising this innovation.
To assist you in making your application to the 2014 Awards, we have pulled together some Hints & Tips, which we hope will answer some questions you may have.
Preparation and getting your application right
In may be the case that your innovation spans a couple of categories. If so, our advice is to select the category with the best fit for your Innovation. During the judging phases, if the judges feel that you would be better suited in another category, they will move your application and you will be notified of this change.
Make sure your application is easy to read by trying to avoid industry jargon. Remember, not all readers of the application will be as conversant with industry language as you are. Avoid the use of acronyms without first explaining what they stand for. You must attempt to keep the reader interested throughout the whole of the reading.
Remember the objective
Some applications in the 2013 awards process lost valuable marks because they didn’t take the time to fully explain their Innovation. This is your ‘shop window’, so make the most of it! Therefore, your objective is to detail your innovation and what is unique about it. If it is an improvement on a current system or process, explain what makes it different.
Keep it to an appropriate length
With several hundred applications to read through, it is important that you keep your application form concise and to the point. Make sure that the whole application is less than 10 pages in length. As a guide, answers to each question should be no longer than 200-500 words max.
Make sure that what you say in the application is correct, including any claims about patents or projected sales/deals. Use your prior trading experience, provide external data and research results to back up what you say. If you anticipate that you will achieve 5% of the global market, then you need to explain how. That is what the reader wants to know.
Leave enough time to prepare it properly
Don't rush the job. If it is prepared in a hurry, it will look like it has been! Get it ready and then leave it alone for a few days before revisiting it. Get someone else to read it – it's amazing what a second pair of non-industry eyes will do! Often, promoters will look at the first draft of their application form after a year or so and be amazed how amateurish it looks. Your first attempt will probably be the same! Don't be put off, everything can be improved with a bit of work.
What the judges are looking for
Having worked my way through over 1,000 applications for these awards over the years, the overriding advice I have is to aim for clarity. While it’s always useful to support your claims with external comments and recommendations, the primary goal is to explain your idea as clearly and precisely as possible. The application should also focus on what makes your idea so innovative and why it is better than anything else on the market at present. Remember these are the innovation awards.
- Clarity - Remember that the judging panel is a mix of people from various walks of life and they may not be as well-read on your area as you are. Get someone outside your business to read through your application and point out any areas where it is unclear.
- Best on market - Clearly explain what makes your idea better than the rest on the market.
- Money matters - If you have financials and bottom line figures to back up your claims then don’t be afraid to include them.
- Jargon buster - In line with the clarity point, avoid getting caught up in either industry-specific or general management jargon. People associate its use with someone filling space because what they have to say doesn’t stand up on its own.
- Deadline time - Don’t leave the application to the last minute. Preparing it early leaves you time to get feedback from friends and make the best effort to get your points across.
Best of luck!
Michael McAleer, Innovation Editor