First National Bank (FNB) and Paperight were last night named the Innovation Masters of the inaugural Accenture Innovation Index in South Africa.

The Innovation Index aims to measure, promote and reward innovative ideas and commercial concepts across the public and private sectors in the South African marketplace. It was launched to promote business growth and the development of new, sustainable enterprises that will spur job creation.

Each entrant completed a questionnaire that captured its efforts to pursue innovation, and these responses were used to assess the innovative work and best practices of these proudly South African companies.

The Innovation Master category was open to any organisation regardless of size or industry. The adjudicators and judges explored how innovation is managed in an organisation, and looked at the entire innovation ecosystem within an organisation, from HR and social systems, to brand, marketing and product development.

The Innovation Masters are lauded for their systematic approach to instilling innovation as part of their organisational culture.

First National Bank won the Zenith award, presented to an organisation with an annual turnover above R40-million, while Paperight won the Apex award for an organisation with an annual turnover less than R40-million.

First National Bank, a subsidiary of the FirstRand Group, has 8,5-million customers in Africa and India. Its strategy of “Rewarding relationships” combines great banking innovation with helpful rewards.

FNB’s innovation highlights include more than 8 160 fully implemented innovations since 2004, being named Most Innovative Bank at the 2012 BAI-Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards, and being recognised as the Most Innovative Bank in South Africa for the past seven years in the Banking Innovation Study conducted by the Innovation Agency.

Paperight turns any business with a printer and an Internet connection into a print-on-demand bookstore. By registering with Paperight for free, businesses have access to an online library from which they can legally print out books, magazines and other documents for their customers.

Paperight lets publishers earn licence fees from the print-outs, cutting out expensive distribution and printing costs, and passing those savings on to customers. Paperight print-outs are, on average, 20% cheaper than conventional editions of books and are available close to people’s homes, even in low-income and remote locations.

In addition, Lodox Systems’ Xmplar-dr was named the top innovation concept, with 1 Call ASAP Accredited Services and Providers and Absa receiving special mentions.

The Lodox Xmplar-dr is a full-body X-ray scanner for trauma and forensic pathology use. The scanner performs a head to toe scan in 13 seconds, producing an entirely digital image of extremely high quality, while emitting very low levels of harmful radiation. The patented imaging process is entirely unique, and no other machine in the world can replicate the speed, extent, quality and safety of scanning.

1 Call Accredited Services and Providers is a one-stop shop for consumers to find an accredited contractor in the domestic marketplace, such as builders, plumbers, electricians and handymen.

Absa’s innovations include a new transactional banking product targeted at entry-level career graduates and professionals, Potentiate, and its new-generation ATMs that offer enhanced cash acceptance, card-less banking and unique security features to minimise the impact of criminal activity on the ATM network.

Absa was also chosen as media partner, Business Day’s readers’ choice.

“The inaugural Accenture Innovation Index in South Africa received 190 entries from a range of organisations across multiple industries,” says Accenture South Africa chief executive, William Mzimba. “This remarkable number of participants is a huge achievement, and has ensured a more accurate benchmark for measuring and rewarding innovation in South Africa. It is also an indication of the level of aspiration for innovation, and we congratulate those companies who have been recognised as South Africa’s leading innovators.”

Jayshree Naidoo, CEO of Da Vinci Design, adds: “Over the past few years we have seen companies in South Africa increasing their focus on innovation at all levels internally and expanding this to include open innovation We have also seen the shift to a structured journey approach that uses innovation as an enabler to achieving sought after business objectives. The Accenture Innovation Index, in association with Da Vinci, has provided, for the first time in South Africa, a measurable benchmark against which to track an organisation’s ability to innovate against a structured framework, allowing companies to perform a ‘health check’ on all aspects of innovation.”

The findings of the Innovation Index, disclosed during an interactive panel discussion featuring Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom; Mzimba; Discovery Holdings CEO Adrian Gore; and The Da Vinci Institute chairman Professor Roy Marcus, provided some insights into the innovative behaviours displayed by South African organisations.

It was revealed that the most innovative companies manage innovation through senior leadership, yet 90% of these companies foster an innovative culture by encouraging employees to innovate and offering financial rewards for great ideas, versus 48 percent for the rest of the market. In addition, these companies have increased their market share through innovation – as cited by 75% of the respondents – and are generating revenue from innovations that are only three years old.

In addition, organisations achieve productivity and efficiency gains as a result of technological process innovations. An overwhelming 97% of South African organisations say technological process innovations have helped them meet growing consumer demand.