On 15th September 2022, Sir George Zambellas, Chairman at Galaxkey Ltd, gave a thought-provoking speech. The subject was “Resilience in Innovation”. His host was bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, Maryland.
To set the scene, UMBC Research and Technology Park harnesses the resources, research, and expertise of UMBC. It enables companies to start, grow, and stay in Maryland. This made it the perfect venue for Sir George to speak and to share his wisdom and experience.
bwtech@UMBC offers Cyber, GovTech, and BioTech Incubators to promote the progress of companies at all stages of development. It houses 131 companies and organizations that employ nearly 1,900 people. Between them, they have generated $700M in labor income and business sales.
In addition to receiving the space they need to grow their companies, members also benefit from the guidance of Entrepreneurs in Residence. These entrepreneurs can help them transform innovative ideas into scalable businesses. One such person is Sir George Zambellas.
With Galaxkey established in Maryland, Sir George was invited to share his views with resident CEOs and students to add to their experience. The topic was “Resilience in Innovation” – something that Sir George is most passionate about.
We’d like to share Sir George’s views and opinions on this exciting topic.
What is an innovator?
During his speech, Sir George exploited the challenges of leadership and resilience in innovation. He used numerous practical examples from his own journey. And he cited the failures and successes that have formed the basis of his confidence that repeated challenges can be overcome.
Sir George suggested that innovators can be thought of as being somehow different, somehow extraordinary, when in reality, they’re not.
They are individuals who have managed to harness the determination to create opportunities, and then to see them through in a very flexible way.
He believes that an innovator is someone who sees how those opportunities are managed. Someone who sees what characteristics are needed to see through the challenge and the opportunity.
An innovator is someone who creates ideas even though there is a tidal wave of reasons why it shouldn’t succeed: why he or she shouldn’t persevere; why he or she shouldn’t take risks; why he or she shouldn’t change direction.
What makes an innovator?
Sir George Zambellas suggested that the sort of people who become innovators are not defined by their wealth, or their resources, or even their education. He believes that they are innovators by character.
Character he defined as the willingness to:
- exert the discipline of analysis
- take an outside look inwards on a plan or an opportunity
- show honesty
- make mistakes
- move on
And, ultimately, to prosper.
The relationship between Big Business and SME’s regarding innovation
Finally, Sir George explored the relationship between big business and SME’s in the innovation space.
He discussed his belief that big business wants the innovative DNA of a SME, but often it kills that innovative spirit through acquisition.
Sir George explained how that waste can be avoided, and that the challenge was of somehow preserving the best contribution from both parties.
But how can they do that and what do they need? He explained what was required:
- a clear vision
- a light touch
- the courage to delegate
When he talked of delegation, he explained that this was the delegation of authority and resources from big business to the SME team.
His final comment on this topic was that managers within big business need to have laser focus on their P&L, and that is something that’s very hard to do.
As you would expect, the lecture was very well received by all who attended – a mix of resident CEO’s and students (future innovators) at UMBC.
Marjorie Cota, Director of Entrepreneurial Services, bwtech@UMBC said of the lecture:
“Sir George is such an influential speaker, providing excellent hands-on knowledge from his tenure/ experience in the Royal Navy and with innovative startups. His time spent with our entrepreneurs and founders at bwtech@UMBC inspired them to think and reflect on how they would remain relevant and resilient in the years to come.”
Sir George Zambellas
Sir George Zambellas is Chairman of Galaxkey Limited, a globally located data security business offering a highly specialised, and incredibly innovative data privacy solution.