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Innovation Stories 2017 - The Next Chapter

Join the conversation and get yourself a seat at the upcoming Innovation Stories event, Wednesday 29th March at DigitasLBi. More info and tickets HERE.
With the annual Innovation Stories event coming up on the 29th March we decided to find out why Innovation is such a hot topic within the advertising industry from one of the co-founders of 'Innovation Social', Nadya Powell.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you founded Innovation Social?

I've been working at the intersection of creativity and technology for 20 years and have become increasingly interested in innovation and diversity over the past 5. On the basis of this, in the world of diversity, I co-founded The Great British Diversity Experiment, ChristmasSOwhite and Millennial Mentoring and Innovation Social in the world of Innovation. Whilst also running some creative agencies and bringing up two small girls!
Innovation Social was founded 5 years ago in reaction to the rise of the Chief Innovation Officer - which was my title at the time - and the uncertainty about what Innovation meant in the Creative Industries. Daniele Fiandaca, my co-founder, and I wanted to create a community of like-minded Innovation people who could share learnings and drive the industry forward. Exactly the ethos of Creative Social.
What does Innovation mean to you in 3 words?

Accountable, Purposeful, Disruption
How has the role of innovation in the advertising industry changed over the past few years since IS was founded?

When we first began there was an influx of Innovation people within creative agencies. Over the past five years many of them have become frustrated with the lack of change in their organisations to enable innovation to be more widely embedded. Hence many of them have left to join start-ups, clients and innovation consultancies. The Innovation industry is now growing fast and professionalising within brands, Unilever Foundry or Wayra being great examples of this, whereas within creative agencies it is still to find stability.
What are the main challenges for 'innovation' in our industry moving forward?

Innovation is not something you can tinker with - set up a lab, buy a few headsets and you won't have innovation. It requires different talent, processes and relationships. If your business is predicated on making 30 seconds ads and you're successful at this innovation probably should not be something you try and tack on. You either invest, or you don't. It takes tenacity, time and focus.
What do you think 'Innovation will look like in 5 years’ time?

It's here to stay - the world is turning so fast you will always need a team of people who only focus on the future and not the now. It will become more embedded in the main workings of any business - changing many businesses to be more agile, more relevant and ultimately better. It will and should be commercially focused helping to define the future strategy for a business.
Which agencies are doing innovation well?

Well my fellow Innovation Social's Lawrence and Will are great examples of how you can make Innovation work in a creative agency. Lawrence works with Unilever Foundry which is an excellent poster child for how the intersection of innovation and creative can work to everyone's advantage. R/GA's accelerator is also a great example of combining the power of TechStars with the brand and tech savvy of R/GA.
What advice would you give to the younger generation wanting to pursue an innovation role within our industry?

I think exploring innovation within a creative agency is a great place to start as it is will be the more creative and softer side of Innovation. Innovation also means being endlessly curious and questioning - great skills to gain and keep. And, if you love innovating you can take these skills into so many areas of your career and can even specialise within an innovation consultancy.
You have your annual Innovation Stories event coming up on the 29th March - why should people come along?

Because it is brilliant! It is a one stop shop on everything Innovation - including the hottest UK start-ups, a SXSW round-up, a session on the changing face of talent and some case studies of successful examples of innovation. We also have a dinner with Bompas & Parr post the event so we can continue the conversation titles Celestial Dining. Come see the stars and taste the galaxy!

If you want to find out more, get yourself a seat at Innovation Stories, Wednesday 29th March at DigitasLBi. Tickets HERE

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Nadya Powell

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  • innovation
  • advertising
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