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Moving Beyond Open Innovation

Opening up R&D organizations to outside ideas has become a powerful weapon in the strategic arsenal of research managers. As Henry Chesbrough writes, “[O]pen innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology.”  This strategy has been associated with notable commercial successes, such as Procter & Gamble’s SpinBrush, sourced not from internal R&D but rather a group of inventors in Cleveland.

The Strategic Challenge: Innovating the Process of Innovation

This is the second in a series of monthly articles presenting the Institute for the Future's forecast on the future of lightweight innovation. In the first post, we explored the how lightweight models for building the web are changing the way companies innovate. This month, we look at some of the key strategic challenges this shift poses for existing institutions.

Innovation and mental health

The folks at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Changemakers.net are at it again. They are holding another open innovation competition aimed at improving health around the world (see this post about their "Designing for Better Health" initiative). This time, they asking people to share their ideas for "improving mental health and community wellbeing."

Rewarding ideas for the future of health care

The XPrize Foundation, which awards muliti-million dollar prizes for innovations in fields such as space technology and genomics, will announce on Tuesday details of the initial design for its latest competition, a proposed $10+ million Health Care X PRIZE.

Science Commons promotes open innovation at eTech conference

I hate live blogging.  But I am at the ETech conference in San Jose and am determined to give it a go. . . .

John Wilbanks from Science Commons is giving an interesting presentation about sharing data in the life sciences, particularly in the areas of genomics and neuroscience.

An Open Health Competition

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Changemakers.net have launched "Designing for Better Health," a competition that calls for projects that demonstrate novel and effective approaches to enouraging behavior changes to improve people's health. In a letter to the Changemakers community, RWJF explains:

How Long Will the Winter Last for Corporate R&D?

The cash crunch is finally hitting the U.S. corporate innovation system head-on. Today's Wall Street Journal reports on a forthcoming study by the Battelle Memorial Institute that forecasts a 1.6 % fall in total U.S. R&D spending in 2009, after decades of faster-than-inflation increases. (link) It's not just the US, though - global R&D spending will faltten out in 2009.

The report is optimistic about the long-term outlook:

Corporate Incubation: Big Pharma's Bold Move

I've been meaning to write about this for a few months now, but the news this week about GlaxoSmithKline's cutbacks in internal R&D (I'll post something about this later in the week) brought me back to a March 2008 piece in Nature Biotechnology about the establishment of corporate biotech incubators at Biogen and Pfizer. (Nature Biotechnology, "Start-ups weigh benefits of corporate incubators", March 2008)

Does Corporate Venture Investing Work?

One of my clients is a large global company trying to beef up its ability to source core innovations that go beyond new combinations and packaging - basic science and technology that will help it deliver new value over a sustained period.

Opening up their innovation process is clearly an important step, and as we have explored many of the potential vehicles for building a more networked R&D model, the idea of a venture investing fund has moved to the forefront of my thinking. If, as open innovation holds, many of the best ideas are outside the company, I can't think of a more aggressive way to scan, secure and inject them into an existing company.

But as the Wall Street Journal reports on Google's efforts in the area, corporate venture funds have a lot of inherent problems and a mixed record.

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