RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge

26 Sep ’06

It isn’t often you see sincere attempts from the largest old economy businesses to explore true innovation. Often, the challenges of meeting new realities are pushed to the back burner – left to simmer while we struggle to merely keep up with the way things are now. This of course is one of the reasons organizations often must be under severe stress before the will to change can be mustered – the North American auto manufacturers seem to be a good example of that. It wasn’t really until no other way could be found that they’ve begun to react to the newest wave of change coming from offshore. And of course, there’s the 70’s as well, when much of our domestic heavy manufacturing sector began the painful process of moving offshore, taking thousands of jobs with it.

The Canadian banking sector has largely been immune from these realities. In considerable contrast to our friends south of the border, we’ve always enjoyed a healthy banking sector and, within reason, it has kept up with technological change and has managed to provide customers with innovative offerings and, from what I understand, considerably improve efficiency in the back office.

But commerce is now once again at the threshold of dramatic change. New demands for security, new forms of commerce (for example, micropayments), the spread of wireless and other developments could significantly impact the consumer’s relationship to money and how it moves. Banks need to keep up, and for quite a while now they’ve led a pretty comfortable existence.

So, I was frankly surprised to hear about a new competition being sponsored by the RBC to encourage young people to contribute ideas about how the banking sector can innovate. The “RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge” is looking for a few great students:

Tell us how today’s teens will influence tomorrow’s financial services industry! The most innovative idea will be rewarded with $20,000! In addition to getting a prize, the five most innovative teams will have a chance to meet senior RBC executives. Are you up for the challenge?

$20,000 clams for a few good ideas? Good for the RBC to ‘think (a little) different’, and do some good for youth initiative at the same time.

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