LocWorld’s Process Innovation Challenge draws huge response

LocWorld’s Process Innovation Challenge (PIC) has long spurred creative solutions to better workflows, applications of technology, and more. And this year is no exception. In fact, the upcoming LocWorld49 in Malmö, Sweden, has prompted a huge response, with dozens submitting their ideas in the lead-up to the conference. LocWorld associates Dave Ruane and Alex Bernet took time from preparing for the conference to give us a preview of the fun to come. 

The PIC preliminaries are well underway, which must be an exciting time. The PIC program has awarded several localization professionals for innovative ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. What are a few that stand out to you?

Dave Ruane: One of the great things about the PIC is that you cannot accurately predict who is going to win. We have tried, but invariably it comes down to who gets the dragons and audience’s attention on the day either through something truly innovative or how they tell and visualize the story. 

I am a sucker for out-of-the-box thinking and good news stories, and we have seen a few at the PIC. 

In 2019, Giulia Tardidti told a story on stage where she basically ignored the norms in the industry and proposed a new way. She proposed not to use “source text” as what the translators see and instead gave them information about what the source text meant or its function. She showed and proved by doing so in her use case (financial Smartphone application) that by doing so they increased click-throughs and revenues by large percentages. How she told the story covering the why and then showing the tangible benefits was masterful. This was a mind shift change for many and Giulia’s method was replicated and taken on, this year she is a dragon at PIC #14. 

Konstantin Savenkov has entered into almost every PIC and always has a new innovation. While he has yet to win it outright, this spirit of continuing to innovate with some very cool tech is what the PIC is all about — sharing your ideas with the PIC audience. Konstantin also credits the PIC for helping him in his career, we return the thanks to him, innovators like Konstantin have helped the PIC progress. 

Last year I got to know an Italian multimedia expert (singer), Andrea Ballista. Andrea had a very simple but powerful idea which was to create an expressive multilingual voice. What do I mean? It takes your voice and then can have your voice saying words in another language. We tried it and it is uncanny with no pauses or incorrections, it sounds fluent,  and of course, has multiple use cases. When he pitched this on stage in a very gentle and well-explained way, the audience fell in love with the innovation and the innovator. 

There are many other PIC moments over the years, I’ve mentioned just a few, this is one of the big reasons we do the PIC.  

It sounds like the call for PIC proposals this cycle has generated a terrific response. What’s it like to see that kind of excitement, and what do you think is spurring it? 

Alex Bernet: The PIC Advisory Board is thrilled with the large number of submissions (26 total) we received for this edition, which will be LocWorld’s 14th Process Innovation Challenge. This is our deepest field of innovators ever! The final round will take place as part of the LocWorld49 Conference in Malmö, Sweden on June 8th. Sweden is recognized as a major hub of innovation and was recently recognized by the European Commission and WIPO, the United Nations agency for intellectual property as the #1 EU country for innovation for 2022! 

We certainly owe some of the current buzz around the competition to that, but also to the great progression that our platform has sustained in the last few years and especially at the most recent in-person LocWorld events. What started out as a small session at LocWorld Barcelona back in 2017 has now been given the center stage at LocWorld on the afternoon of the first conference day, and more than 250 LocWorld attendees watched (and voted in) each of our final rounds in Berlin and San Jose last year. The platform continues to grow and reach new innovators and we are very proud of that fact. 

Dave Ruane: Another reason is the recent pivot of people to embracing new tech and innovative ways to do things. Look at the hype around technology like OpenAI and how folks are trying to find use cases. We see a similar trend for new innovative ideas in our space. Four of the 6 finalists in this version of the PIC have some AI incorporated into their innovation. 

Can you tell us a little about what it’s been like overseeing the program? How does the process of selecting finalists work? 

Alex Bernet: At this point in the process of the 14th Process Innovation Challenge, we have just narrowed our field of innovators from the 23 that participated in our preliminary rounds in late April down to 6 innovators that have advanced to the final round in Sweden on June 7. The judging for the PIC preliminary rounds and selecting the finalists that advance is the sole responsibility of the 3 Process Dragons that were appointed by the PIC Advisory Board. For LocWorld49 in Sweden, our esteemed dragons are Britta Aagaard (Semantix), Esther Curiel (Zoetis), and Giulia Tarditi (Qualtrics.) They oversaw the preliminary rounds where each innovator was granted 3 slides and 3 minutes to pitch their ideas before answering questions from the dragons. Now that our finalists have been chosen, each innovator is assigned to a coach/mentor from the PIC organizing committee to help them to prepare and hone their pitches before the upcoming final round in Sweden. 

On June 7, the final round takes place on the center stage at LocWorld49. Unlike the preliminaries where only the dragons vote, the final round is open for all conference attendees to watch and to vote for the “Innovator of the Year – Europe” Award. The voting for the final round is weighted between 50% of the vote from the dragons and 50% of the vote from the audience.

Organizing this has been a labor of love for Dave and me. The PIC has grown into a community of support with a great group of alumni who stay interested in the competition, who help each other out by mentoring each group of finalists, and who also help encourage new innovators to join the fray and enter the competition. The opportunity is massive for innovators to learn, be seen, and grow through the PIC.

It all leads up to the upcoming LocWorld conference this summer in Malmö, Sweden. What are you most excited about, and what are some of the prizes participants have to look forward to? 

Alex Bernet: Well, as we are still emerging as an industry from the pandemic (like everyone else), just being present at in-person events again has re-infused the PIC with lots of new energy. We held some great virtual versions of the competition but the real value for our innovators is the feedback and exciting connections they can make with our dragons and the audience after pitching in the final round. We provide a platform that first gives them visibility in our industry for their out-of-the-box thinking and the second value proposition comes from the connections they make during the PIC. 

Dave Ruane: Multilingual has graciously added to that visibility through some article prizeware and we thank them for their support. LocWorld provides future event credit and XTM International also provides support to the event. 

Anything else you want to add? 

Dave Ruane: Any innovation within the localization space is valid to be entered into the PIC. It can be a process, technology, or other innovation. It could be a concept or a functioning tool. One of the things we have seen is that by entering the PIC, innovators learn a lot, including how to answer the CFP, how to pitch their idea in three minutes, and what makes a good pitch. We encourage every innovator to give it a go, you never know what could happen as a result.

Alex Bernet: Thanks very much for taking the time to cover LocWorld’s Process Innovation Challenge. We will award the Innovator of the Year Award for Europe on June 7 in Malmö but any innovators who are thinking about entering the PIC should check our website in July when we will open the next Call For Papers seeking innovations for the 15th Process Innovation Challenge, the final round of which will take place at LocWorld50 Silicon Valley in October.

Cameron Rasmusson
Cameron Rasmusson is a writer and journalist. His first job out of the University of Montana School of Journalism took him to Sandpoint, Idaho as a staff writer for the Bonner County Daily Bee. Since 2010, he's honed his skills as a writer and reporter, joining the MultiLingual staff in 2021.


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