How can innovation thrive in Romania?

Innovation and the process of innovating is about bringing together the talents of many people and becoming competitive in the global market. Economies are driven by new ideas and new processes. Romania has lagged behind in this chapter, but has a huge chance to brand itself as an exporter of solutions for the big cities in the West.

Karl McFaul has dedicated 35 years to work in various international positions, of which the last 15 have focused on the European space and especially on Romania. His experience includes consultancy and project management positions for companies and cities in the US, Asia, Europe and Africa where he focused on developing ecosystems for innovation. As a business architect, Karl supports organizations seeking to build structural capital in the 21st century global economies with a focus on customers, corporate governance, R&D, HR, communication and IT.

On the UrbanTalks stage, Karl discussed how he sees innovation as a process from the first stages to the emergence of a final product.

Innovation requires togetherness. We need to gather together different types of personalities and people in what we do in order to innovate something. In the gestation phase we start with the highly introvert researchers, then it starts with a new insight and on top of that start the introvert engineer who tries to improve a new type of technology, product or service. Then, it comes the highly extrovert entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are proud doers. They make things happen, like Grațian Mihăilescu. Some people have the artistic capacity to embrace all of these personas into their character. I think Grațian is such a person, highly communicative and engages the audience bringing together different types of skills into contexts where you can start to attract capital investments into business models and make things happen. During this type of emerging process with emergent practice, best practice starts to appear after a while so we know how to routinize work and mass produce units and reach some kind of limit to how many people can adopt a solution into their market. That is how we reach a decline phase and start to think of organization. Now we live in a rapid innovation driven economy where we need to adapt enterprise and business agility in order to enter the new life-cycles of innovation

There are a number of conditions for innovation to thrive in a given country, the most important being the freedom to propose new ways of creation. Without a democratic system that allows people to express themselves and come up with ideas, innovation dies in the dark. This is also an explanation why the United States is more likely to come to market with a new product that reaches the whole world than a country like North Korea. Karl McFaul sees a huge opportunity for Romania in exporting solutions to international markets facing problems in city management, from mobility to citizen interaction tools.

Not only evolution, but innovation thrives where there is a combination between the market and the top-down processes. The individuals influence very much how the resources should be allocated between the stakeholders and the procedures. The drivers of change today are NGOs. When it comes to NGOs, we create this open innovation platforms for different cities which operate in the workspace between the workplaces. Cities are drivers of change for sustainable development in the new type of view we have on ecosystems. Innovation thrives in certain parts of the world where there is press freedom to disseminate ideas and circulate ideas, debate, discuss, less authoritarian centralized systems, we call them democracies of course which have a set of rules to make markets remain free and avoid monopolies. I think Romania has a great window of opportunity to start to develop and export solutions for all these cities of major markets ahead of us who will require new solutions in energy, transport, mobility and democracy tools, whatever people need to live together in urban areas.

We invite you to watch Karl McFaul’s intervention on our Youtube channel.

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