November 29, 2008

InnoCentive lands top researchers

Doing a Google search earlier this month, I found an interesting press release.
Nov 14, 2008 14:04 ET
Preeminent MIT and Harvard Academics Eric von Hippel and Karim Lakhani Join InnoCentive's Strategic Advisory Board
Professors' World-Renowned Expertise in Open Innovation to Help InnoCentive Drive Adoption Across Industries and Expand Its Global Network of Solvers

WALTHAM, MA--(Marketwire - November 14, 2008) - InnoCentive, Inc., the global innovation marketplace, today announced the appointment of two new members to its Strategic Advisory Board: Professor Eric von Hippel, head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Karim R. Lakhani, an assistant professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at the Harvard Business School.

The addition of Professors von Hippel and Lakhani to the board will support InnoCentive's growing business and provide insight into the challenges businesses face that open innovation can address. Their guidance is expected to help InnoCentive raise awareness of the intellectual resources that can be tapped within the larger global community to drive innovation across industries.
This is the inventor of user innovation and one of his top PhD students — probably the two top user innovation researchers within hundreds of miles of InnoCentive.

I have one small quibble. The crowd sourcing model of InnoCentive is a two-sided market: one side for innovation and another side for buying. Thus, it’s more of an open innovation play than a user innovation.

Still, since von Hippel studied a broad range of external innovation for his 2005 book Democratizing Innovation, and Lakhani wrote the HBS case on InnoCentive, they are eminently qualified to help InnoCentive develop and implement its novel business model.

November 27, 2008

Eliminating a real pain point

When I was speaking in Chile last week, one of the speakers represented DuPont Latin America. As with other divisions of DuPont, they are charged with coming up with new applicants for the company’s materials. The case he discussed was the application of Kevlar, a heavy duty fiber invented in 1965 and quickly applied to bullet proof vests.

In the US, DuPont has released “StormRoom,” a way of armoring a closet or other interior room to provide safety in the event of a hurricane or tornado. The design requirements are severe:
FEMA has created a national standard [that] requires structures to withstand high wind loads and to resist a 12ft, 15lb, 2’x4’ building timber shot at the shelter at 100 mph. 100mph is how fast a 250+mph wind will carry the 2’x4’. …The DuPont™ StormRoom™ with KEVLAR® meets the national requirements for hurricane and tornado shelters.
In the US, there are roughly 50 tornado deaths a year. Hurricane deaths are more variable, but one estimate put it at about 20 per year (although 2004 and 2005 had atypically high fatality totals).

In Latin America, DuPont has found a bigger pain point: the high murder rate in several countries. For example, Brazil has nearly 50,000 murders annually. The problem is large enough to be a concern of the middle class, beyond just the executives who are targets of kidnapping schemes.

Thus DuPont has unveiled Armura, a retrofit solution for passenger cars that uses Kevlar for door panels and SentryGlas laminate layer for windows.

The advantages of this solution over previous car armoring solutions are weight and cost. The solution adds 75 lbs. (90 kg) to a passenger sedan. In October 2008, DuPont Brazil unveiled solution. It offers the solution for BRL 16,000 or US $7,250 tailored for specific Toyota and Chevy models.

Using branch offices to find applications is not strictly open innovation. But it certainly is in the spirit of open innovation of decentralizing commercialization beyond the R&D lab or HQ marketing.

When I heard about Armura, it directly reminded me of Figure 4.3 (p. 77) of our 2006 book from the chapter on open innovation by RPI’s Gina O’Connor. Gina showed how (a decade ago) DuPont used an ad in Scientific American to solicit applications for its then new Biomax polymer based on renewable resources.

As I said in my own talk — prepared before the DuPont talk — DuPont is the exemplar of the vertically integrated firm of the late 19th or early 20th century. Our understanding of the development of DuPont and other such firms comes from Strategy and Structure and other books of Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. The “D” stands for Dupont., as his great-grandmother was raised by the DuPont family.

November 20, 2008

Reading list

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, I gave a talk this week in Santiago on open innovation. This prompted me to pull together in one place the open innovation (and related) readings I’ve been recommending since starting this blog. (Note: as with anything else I write in this blog, these opinions are my own and thus are not necessarily those of the global innovation community).

As a starting point, I want to mention that we have a full bibliography of open innovation research on our website; I try to update this about every six months. I’ve also previously summarized definitions of open innovation.

There are also three books written (or co-written) by Henry Chesbrough:
  1. Open Innovation (2003) was the first book: it created the open innovation paradigm and has guided all open innovation research and practice since then. This is the most often cited reference on open innovation, and it would be hard for anyone to be an expert in OI without owning this book (now in paperback).
  2. If Chesbrough’s first book was written for R&D managers, then Open Business Models (2006) was written for the business side of the house. Chesbrough said that he found the first book convinced the R&D managers but those who run the numbers needed more tailored arguments.
  3. Finally, Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and I edited a 2006 book (Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm) with chapters from 15 innovation scholars. While primarily intended for an academic audience, this year I’ve used it in my MBA technology strategy class. My students seemed to be OK with reading Chapter 1, 3 (second half), 4, 5, 6. Other parts of the book will work if you are comfortable with academic jargon or can pick around it. (PDFs of the book manuscript are available online or it can be purchased).
Even with this wealth of material, those interested in open innovation shouldn’t stop there. Regular blog readers know that I’ve also been trying since May 2007 to provide an integrative perspective on three distinct research streams: open, user and cumulative innovation. While these streams overlap in what they consider, at least for now they seem to have their own scholars and body of research.

Here are some of the original readings for the two other streams:

  • User innovation. Eric Von Hippel’s 2005 book Democratizing Innovation is must reading (available for purchase or download), as it is up-to-date, lays out the current issues, and contains pointers back to the rest of the literature. The one emerging topic I would add is user entrepreneurship, as covered by Sonali Shah and Mary Tripsas in their 2007 journal paper.
  • Cumulative innovation. The most readable are the 1991 Journal of Economic Perspectives article by Suzanne Scotchmer and a deeper, more probing examination in her 2004 book, Innovation and Incentives. The broadest and most up-to-date treatment is last year’s article in Organization Science by Fiona Murray and Sibohan O’Mahony.
I gave talks in August contrasting these three streams ({open | user | cumulative} innovation) at the UOC 2008 and the Academy of Management. Those who want to cite a written lit review should for now see my workshop paper from last April, which will be coming out in a law journal next year and draws from my 2007 EURAM keynote. While this may the first actual paper I’ve written contrasting the literatures, it won’t be the last.

There’s a lot more related research streams that could also be mentioned — university-industry relations, open source software, the role of communities, etc. Perhaps I can these cover these in a future posting, but for now I hope this provides a good starting point for anyone interested in open innovation and related work.

November 10, 2008

Open Innovation in Copenhagen

Earlier this year, Copenhagen Business School announced that open innovation is one of its six overall research priorities:
Open innovation has increasingly become an attractive way for companies to gain new inspiration from external sources. This area of research addresses the issues of how open companies should be and when, during the process, it pays to be open.
Last month, the open innovation research group hosted a workshop entitled “Organizing for Internal and External Knowledge Creation and Innovation: Looking within or Searching Beyond?.”
I learned about the program today in an e-mail exchange with Keld Laursen, research director for the group (who participated in our 2005 open innovation panel and has published open innovation articles with Ammon Salter from UK data).

Keld said the group includes:
  • Keld Laursen
  • Jens Frøslev Christensen
  • Lars Bo Jeppesen
  • Thomas Ronde
  • Francesco Rullani
  • Toke Reichstein
  • Serden Ozcan
  • Christoph Hienert
It’s quite an impressive list. Jens was an author in our 2006 book and a 2005 panelist, Christoph was in the 2006 open innovation special issue of R&D Management edited by Eric von Hippel and Georg von Krogh, while both Lars Bo and Francesco are well known in the user innovation and open source research communities.

There are other groups that focus on open innovation in Europe. However, this announcement appears to be evidence of increasing interest in open innovation, at least in Europe. CBS is one of Europe’s most prolific business research universities, and the university with the strongest innovation management focus (including with its DRUID conference.)