Our take on ‘innovation’

What does innovation mean?

Is it an idea that goes on to be commercially successful?

Is it the number of  patents per capita?

Map by Global Economic Watch, with data from Forbes.com

Is it the capacity for cultural exchange – like Richard Florida’s ‘Street-level Scene’, vibrant city streets filled with independent cafes, art galleries, and factory-turned-live-work spaces that allow people to express themselves in new, creative ways?

I’d like to talk about our take on innovation, because – fundamentally, we’re a technology company, inventing new ways to do things, hopefully better.

To us it’s not our sales projections, or the number of patents we’ve filed (although patents represent a significant portion of the value of this company). Despite our frequent visits to Balzac’s in Liberty Village, it’s not spending loads of time in fancy coffee shops coming up with new ideas (our first LSO prototype was tested at a very un-fancy In & Out Burger in the U.S. – the first sunny outdoor environment we had access to while traveling).

To us, innovation is really about the end goal – why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how to make that goal easier to achieve, and maybe at the same time making it simpler to get there. For us, the goal is to make clean energy affordable, and to do that, John Paul and our team of engineers and scientists have set about making a simpler solar panel that can be more easily deployed in places like Africa, India, as well as the industrialized world.

We were incredibly honoured last week for being awarded the inaugural Canadian Energy Innovation Award, sponsored jointly between the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais.  The Award recognized our long-term research collaboration with the University of Ottawa SUNLab.  Together with Dr. Karin Hinzer and her team at the  SUNLab (the only lab in Canada researching high-efficiency cell design), over the next four years we’ll lab test, deploy, and monitor over 200 kW of Sun Simba panels.

Here is the awards video, which has some of the best visuals to date of the Sun Simba (thanks to the OCE’s videographer, Tom Korzeniowski):

To us, it isn’t innovation for the sake of innovation, it’s finding a new and better way to solve a problem.