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HP’s Open Innovation Strategy

February 17, 2011

As I was going through the latest edition of MIT technology review, I read this amazing article on open innovation.

Before I start to discuss HP’s open innovation models, I will walk my readers through what “Open innovation” actually means.

Open innovation, the latest theory by Henry Chesbrough,  states 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”.

The core ideology of open innovation is that in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions (i.e. patents) from other companies.

The closest parallel I can draw for the reader is the “Open source technologies” in the software industry, the technologies are created to be used again by others to prevent reinventing the wheel themselves.

Companies across the globe are trying to leverage research done at academic institutions, public research centers and also licensing technologies of other companies.

Coming back to the MIT Tech Review article, it speaks of how HP as an organization is trying to leverage academic research to add value to its products and give those innovations a chance of mass commercialization.

HP

I’ll quote some of the segments of the article which I really liked,

HP’s Innovation Research Program, now in its fourth year, gives grants of $50,000 to $75,000 to university researchers. Each grant can be renewed for up to three years. The company is reviewing proposals for this year’s round of grants.

“This is not innovation by doing contract research,” says Friedrich, director of the Open Innovation Office at HP Labs. “This really about bottom-up ideas and inspiration and trying to understand how to apply those.

Young innovation aspirants sure need to look forward to this.

The goal of this program, as the man himself says is beyond short term benefits in products.

Along the way, HP researchers and grant recipients have coauthored about 200 journal papers. At least 21 invention disclosures, the first step toward securing a patent, have been filed. HP has all grant winners sign an agreement detailing how they’ll share any intellectual property that comes out of the research. “At some point I do expect some of these to have influence and impact on our products,” Friedrich says. “But we’re really engaged in things that go beyond the product road map.”

If this really makes you feel excited about the program or open innovation here are some links that you might want to read through

MIT Review Article Link: http://www.technologyreview.com/business/32260/page1/

Open Innovation Definitions and background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_innovation

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