That is a question I often get asked when people ask me what I do. I have yet to come up with an easy answer.
Being curious is the answer I usually give. It is all about asking the right questions to tease out what people are trying to achieve and help identify issues and opportunities.
It is really varied, from talking about the genetics of cows to produce more cheese (BB Kappa casein gene if you are interested) to the logistical problems of moving milk from farm to hospitality venues.
But it is all about being helpful and connecting people who may be able to help each other, to form projects and excite people about the prospects of an innovation.
I do like thinking outside the box to see if there is an alternative way things could be done and asking ‘why do you do this’? You do need to be able to ask the questions, and I don’t’ mind looking stupid for not understanding a basic concept. Being willing to look stupid means that others don’t mind asking questions too!
An important part of my role is to identify the needs and drivers of all the different stakeholders in any project. If the project does not align with the needs of all the people involved then it is unlikely to succeed. When putting together a project, you need to ask: Who is going to use this? Why are they going to use it? Why (and how much) will they pay for it? What is the delivery chain and does everyone in that chain align with the idea?
So what is an Innovation Broker?
I help put together projects by connecting people from across disciplines, from academia, agriculture, and from business to develop new products, services or ideas.
But it also requires patience, as a colleague of mine said, as she sighed after another project did not get funded; ‘You have to kiss an awful lot of frogs before you find a Prince’.
The innovation sector works on the premise that about 1 in 10 projects will fly and make money. Another 3 or 4 will wash their face and become products or services…to manage expectations around half will not work. That is the reason that the government puts money into research and innovation. To reduce the risk to businesses and to individuals, and get more people to innovate, to develop new products and services.
So, if you have a frog that needs turned in to a Prince then do come and talk to one of the Digital Dairy Chain’s Innovation Brokers.
Written by Mike Christian, July 2023