Back in the day, big businesses and small businesses rarely interacted. What could a small business have or know that could possibly interest multi-national know-it-alls?
Money, distribution and influence were the assets that mattered then. But today the key currency is innovation. Smaller existing companies know they must either become masters of technology and shifting markets, or they’ll become a statistic. So now we see more of them grasping for innovation expertise by partnering with startups, sponsoring incubators, and even holding hackathons. They need innovation partners with one foot in the future.
Case in point: #DisruptMining, an innovation competition designed to bring solutions to the hard-pressed mining industry. The desire for change comes from Vancouver-based Goldcorp, the world’s fourth-largest gold producer. But the catalyst is Integra Gold, a junior explorer in Vancouver.
Although still at least a year from production on its properties at Val d’Or, Que., Integra is hungry to maximize its opportunities by making mining more efficient – and a more attractive investment.
“Mining is falling behind in innovation,” says Stephen de Jong, Integra’s 33-year-old CEO. He blames mining’s innovation gap on the industry’s cyclical nature. “In the good years, it’s all go-go-go, bigger is better. When things turn down, there’s no money for new things. So there’s never an opportunity to innovate.”
Integra has weathered the current downturn through tireless fundraising and patient development at its Triangle deposit, located 2.5 km east of two long-serving but currently shuttered gold mines.
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