Kiwi company Ixom went through Driving InnovationCallaghan Innovation's 12-month skills development programme. This initiative is also co-funded by Callaghan Innovation, and Velox Innovation are a current delivery partner.



Ixom (previously Orica) is a chemical wholesaler and distributor with operations in both New Zealand and Australia.

Ixom has a distributed work force of 600 FTE's mainly organized to support the sale and distribution of chemicals.

Ixom has a distributed work force of 600 FTE's mainly organized to support the sale and distribution of chemicals.

Ixom services the dairy, food and water sectors in both countries and enjoys a dominant market position with over $150m in annual turnover in New Zealand alone. The company received a capital injection by the Black Stone Group in 2014 and recognised the need to innovate in order to improve its future prospects.

While this was happening in 2014, Callaghan Innovation hosted a series of workshops by Langdon Morris, a best selling author and expert on innovation practices.  Velox Innovation was invited to develop and pilot Driving Innovation, a 12 month in-business skills development course that applies Agile principles to the innovation process. 

IXOM were quick to enroll on the Driving Innovation programme which was made easier with the 50% co-funding arrangement for qualifying organisations.  This case study outlines their journey with us.



Following the workshop, Ixom's stated goals in the early stages were:

  • To increase innovation activities within their business
  • To tighten up their existing customer relationships
  • To fend off competition and "become unbeatable"
  • To explore new business ideas beyond "just chemicals"
Leah Davey, Business Manager Process Cleaning Technologies and Ray Vagana, Head of Innovation - Ixom NZ.

Leah Davey, Business Manager Process Cleaning Technologies and Ray Vagana, Head of Innovation - Ixom NZ.



The innovation team faced several challenges not unusual for large sales driven organisations:

  • A culture that is biased towards sales and resistant to changes beyond the existing business model
  • Market pressures (e.g declining milk payout)
  • Distributed teams and functions
  • Capability gaps particularly in the areas of business analysis and customer experience design
  • Non-existent innovation processes and tools


Ixom enrolled on the Driving Innovation Programme in 2015 and engaged the services of Velox Innovation (Vi).

In the early stages, our coaching team made up of two Vi coaches and one Callaghan Innovation BIA worked with IXOM to gather an internal coalition of staff who would focus on bringing innovation practices to the heart of their business. This team set about finding an appropriate IXOM market opportunity to begin developing the internal innovation process.

Vi worked with the IXOM coalition to co-create an innovation framework and quickly worked to bring it to life on a live IXOM opportunity. These included:

  • Kanban for idea governance
  • An innovation strategy
  • A Wiki to capture and store the emerging innovation process (later known as 'The Ixom Way').


The team was invited to apply what they had learn't in the form of a series of Market Opportunity Experiments.


1. Helped to accelerate the decision making processes for new ideas

2. Tested the critical assumptions underpinning the idea

3. Revealed more insights around the types of problems that Ixom customers experience

The Market Opportunity Experiment (MOE) applies the LEAN Startup method through a series of iterations (supported by a Vi coach). The core innovation team was coached and mentored through the exercise and encourage to document their learnings in the company wiki.

The wiki has now become the central repository for all innovation projects and also serves as the company's standard framework for delivering initiatives.



The overall outcomes of the Driving Innovation Programme for Ixom:

    • A marked difference in culture and a more positive attitude towards innovation
    • Improved innovation capabilities and capacities:
      • Customer Development
      • Business Model Design
      • Agile Product Development
    • A widely adopted innovation framework
    • Increased speed to market for new ideas
    • Increased speed and throughput with Market Opportunity Experiment testing
    • Improved probability of ROI
    The Driving Innovation Programme had a dramatic effect on the business culture and its innovation engagement. It was initially focused on the Dairy and Food & Beverage teams, but post programme is being embedded across the business. We are very happy with the results.”
    — Ray Vagana - Head of Innovation at Ixom NZ

    Talk to Velox Innovation about how Driving Innovation could benefit your company.