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Innovation à l'écossaise

05/11/2009 - par M.T.

You wouldn't expect to have to go all the way to Scotland to get new insights into the concept of innovation, but that's exactly what happened to me last week. I was giving a talk about luxury brands at a meeting of the Scottish Textiles Association in Edinburgh. I met lots of interesting people who worked with beautiful, deeply traditional products like cashmere, lace and tweed. And they were all discussing ways of moving into the 21st century. Some of them had fantastic ideas.
For instance, many Scottish textile companies have used weaving techniques to make everything from airbags for cars to shatterproof glass and tiny valves used in heart surgery. Others provide super hardwearing fabrics for seats in airports and on trains. As another speaker pointed out, innovation is not just about thinking of something that hasn't been done before – it's also about thinking of your own company in a different way. When Apple stopped thinking of itself as a computer company and decided that it was a maker of creative tools, it came up with the Ipod.
In Edinburgh, I met a lady whose company makes Scotland's finest kilts. Her latest innovation was to launch a brand of Scotch whisky for the South Korean market. A textile firm that uses its brand equity to diversify into making whisky – now that's innovative.

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Innovation à l'écossaise

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