Linking Ideas & Innovation

Archive for the 'iBridge Network' Category

Innovation Channels

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Webster defines a channel as “a way, course, or direction of thought or direction of thought or action.”  These channels will be courses of action leading to innovation.  Much like distribution channels give producers a choice of how their product is distributed, innovation channels are the choices by which innovation skills are accessed, and apply to both internal efforts as well as external ones.  As the whole notion of open innovation has flourished, there have been few attempts to provide practitioners with a concrete set of guidelines for how and when to select an innovation channel.

Insight on innovation channels is explored by Alpheus Bingham and Dwayne Spradlin in their book The Open Innovation Marketplace: Creating Value in the Challenge Driven Enterprise.  This insert will provide you with sources for establishing a foundation on the channels themselves and their distinctions:

  1. Internal – Innovating using the existing resources, namely people and equipment, within an organization.
  2. Contract Research Organization – A well-defined range of specialties and capabilities.  In many instances, they repeat a given type of research more frequently than a product innovator does.  This gives them a competitive edge for conducting certain studies.
  3. Electronic Request for Proposals – A contracting group can access organizations they may be unaware of and expand the range of alternatives prior to selection and agreement of terms.
  4. Off-Shoring – Differently from outsourcing, this channel refers to the placement of the work in countries where labor costs are significantly lower.
  5. Crowdsourcing, Ideation – The broadcasting of challenges to a wide audience but with the expectation that the solving audience would respond with only their ideas or a theoretical justification for why their approach should work.
  6. Crowdsourcing/Reduction to Practice – The solving community will also conduct the studies required for “reduction to practice.” The solving community members to whom the challenge is broadcast are expected to conduct appropriate experiments and demonstrate the viability of their solutions.
  7. University Contracts – Often conducted as part of graduate student thesis efforts, with special IP and publication issues, and more important, the efforts themselves provide affiliation with some of the most respected and trustworthy brands in the world.
  8. Consulting – A self-explanatory internal innovation.
  9. Right of First Refusal – A unique way to manage risk by paying for “fewer” rights upfront in exchange for the right to negotiate for greater IP, at a later date, after risks have been reduced by experimental outcomes.
  10. Joint Venture – When entities, which usually do not compete with each other, may both benefit from the outcomes of an innovation endeavor and want to share risks, costs, and of course, financially attractive outcomes.


Open Source Nurtures Innovation

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Software innovation is made more manageable and less expensive in an open source environment. The point of open source is to offer software which is cheaper, dependable, and of superior quality. This software is often free and available for anyone’s use.

The Benefit
In an open source environment, all may benefit from the program a programmer creates or improves. Programmers are also given the ability to work on several projects at once. The open source community can be a great entry in the venture capital world and widen the possibility landing a super OS job. Many of these nuances keep the open source boat afloat.

Sustainability is a shared responsibility in an open source setting. A programmer is no long solely responsible for the maintaining their innovations, but others can contribute through shared codes. This frees them up to crank out more innovations. An open source environment is an amazing starting point for innovators.

Now the preverbal need to re-create the core is eliminated. Open sources makes innovation easier. An additional benefit is the innovators ability to work alongside other innovators and his or her varying vantage point and worldwide view.

Innovation is global, multidisciplinary and open; therefore the need to bring different minds and different perspectives together to discover new solutions to long-standing problems is immense. Therein lies the essence of collaborative innovation.

In the words of Thomas Goetz:

Software is just the beginning … open source is doing for mass innovation what the assembly line did for mass production. Get ready for the era when collaboration replaces the corporation.

The Power
So what makes open source so powerful?

Goetz gives two reasons: the rise of the Internet and the excesses of intellectual property. The Internet is open source’s great enabler, the communications tool that makes massive decentralized projects possible. Intellectual property, on the other hand, is open source’s nemesis: a legal regime that has become so stifling and restrictive that thousands of free-thinking programmers, scientists, designers, engineers, and scholars are desperate to find new ways to create.

Freed from the need to re-invent the core, they are able to devise the new more easily, of course. But just as they are no longer responsible for all 100% of the sustaining, they are also able to work alongside other innovators and to benefit from their differing view of the world, bringing new richness.

The Myth
The notions that open source is not innovative and only a means to avoid license costs are now busted. A software innovation trail is being swiftly blazed by the open source revolution. Industry leaders such as Apple and Microsoft are using it build the world.

Open Innovation

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

These days, the former leading industrial enterprises are finding remarkably strong competition from many newer companies.  Companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco conduct little or no basic research on their own.  Although they have been very innovative, these companies have innovated with the research discoveries of others.  And there is a legion of other, even newer companies waiting to supplant these firms if an opportunity should arise.  They are likely to rely on someone else’s discoveries to ascend to leadership.

What accounts for the apparent decline in the innovation capabilities of so many leading companies, at a time when so many promising ideas abound?  Closed innovation.  It is a view that says successful innovation requires control.  In closed innovation, a company must hire the best and the brightest people, so that the smartest people in their industry work for them.  In order to bring new products and services to the market, they must be discovered and developed from within.  If they discover it, they will get it to market first and, thus, declared the winner.  If the lead the industry in making investments in R&D, they will discover the best and the most ideas and will come to lead the market.  Therefore, they should control their intellectual property so that their competitors don’t  profit from their ideas.

Today, several factors combine to erode the underpinnings of Closed Innovation.  One factor is the growing mobility of highly experienced and skilled people.  The logic of Closed Innovation was further challenged by the increasingly fast time to market for many products and services, making the shelf life of a particular technology ever shorter.  When these erosion factors have impacted an industry, these assumptions and logic that once made Closed Innovation an effective approach no longer applied.

Open Innovation is emerging in the place of Closed Innovation.  Open 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.  Although the Open innovation process still weeds out false positives (now from external as well as internal sources), it also enables the recovery of false negatives, that is, projects that initially seem almost worthless, but turn out to be surprisingly valuable.


The Startup Act

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Need another reason to create transparency and access to innovation? As stated in the Huffington Post article, “…new companies have been disproportionately responsible for many of the breakthrough innovations that characterize modern life today…”

Everyone knows we need access to the innovation taking place within the universities to help grow and create new firms. Firms that can create new jobs. New jobs that can help turn the economy around.

Read the rest of the article and see how you can help startup America!

Patent Reform

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Will Patent Reform Finally Become Reality?  After years of failed attempts, patent reform is again gaining momentum.  In March, the Senate overwhelmingly passed what is now called “The America Invents Act,” and the House Judiciary Committee approved a revised version of the bill in mid-April.  The full House should consider the measure later this year.

The most significant change to the patent system itself is the move from a “first to invent” to a “first inventor to file” system, putting the U.S. in harmony with most of the rest of the world.  There is a great deal of concern this change will harm start-ups and individual inventors that have do not have the resources to file early in the R&D process.  There have been moves to expand prior user rights, which would allow certain prior inventors to continue to use their inventions without infringement.  Prior user rights are expected to be the source of additional debate, but it remains to be seen whether significant prior user rights will end up in the final bill.

One of the primary stated purposes of the legislation is to decrease the Patent Office backlog of over 700,000 applications and increase the quality the resulting patents.  The key provision addressing this problem would allow the Patent Office to set its own fees and prevent Congress from diverting Patent Office fees to other unrelated programs.  Congress has used Patent Office revenue for other purposes for many years, and as late as April diverted $100 million of Patent Office fees to the Treasury Department’s general fund.

The bill also provides expanded opportunities for third parties to present “prior art” to the patent office during prosecution and challenge patents after issuance in a post grant opposition process akin to what is used in many foreign countries.  The goal is to increase the quality of patents by bringing more relevant prior art to the attention of the examiners and decreasing the cost of challenging a “bad” patent.

Although the bills certainly have opponents, the current Senate and House bills do not contain the types of hot button issues, like limitations on damages, that caused patent reform to stall in past years.  And the differences between the Senate and House bills appear to be reconcilable.  Given that patent reform has bi-partisan Congressional support, as well as the support of the Obama administration, 2011 may be the year it finally happens.


Reason for Optimism

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

As we enter into 2011 there is still much cynicism and debate about the state of innovation here in the U.S. and abroad. What ingredients are needed to spur it? What geographies will lead the way? What should be government’s involvement? What is the private sector’s role? Will the global economy get back on track? We will fail? Will we succeed? 

However, no matter where your opinion happens to fall on the optimism – pessimism spectrum, it is hard to not feel some glimmer of hope when you consider the amount of great thinking, new cutting-edge products and technologies, and amount of incredible innovations on display in the first two weeks of the year at both the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

CES was the venue for 20,000 new product introductions from 2,700 different companies including names such as Motorola, Corning, Cisco, Energizer, Netflix, Xerox, Samsung and Hewlett Packard to name a few. In addition to some really snazzy new technologies and devices, many other topics and issues central to innovation were introduced and discussed including open access, broadband spectrum, wireless video, the need for improved K-12 schooling, changes in tax policy, and a focus on free trade.

One week later in Detroit, thousands of key opinion leaders from the global automotive industry including CEOs and executives from Porsche, Ford, BMW, Volvo and others met for 72 hours and witnessed the worldwide debut of nearly 40 vehicles and also exchanged ideas and strategies that affect global economics.

From our perspective here at the iBridge Network, it is great to see that innovation is alive and leading to tangible outcomes that can (and already are in some instances) boost the economy, create jobs, and make us safer, connected, entertained, educated and informed. It is also promising to see the sheer volume of collaboration, access, resources, and bright thinking taking place and making all of this possible.

While opinions may differ on how all of the pieces should fit together and what role all parties should ultimately play, one thing is clear after 18 days of the New Year : There are a large number of business and government leaders who care about our future and are already focusing on results. Now that is a reason for optimism.  

The iBridge Network also cares very much about the future of innovation and is truly invested in further helping many of these companies, institutions, universities, and entrepreneurs to turn ideas and research into commercialized products. Speaking of a tremendous first few weeks of the year, we have already signed 10 new members, bringing the total number of member organizations to 122. Stay tuned for more news and details on that in the coming weeks.

As the Year Comes to an End…

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

A Time for Reflection and Looking Forward

It’s that time of year again…a time to look back and reflect on all that was accomplished throughout the year, and also a time to look ahead with a renewed sense of passion and excitement at the next 12 months.

For the iBridge Network, 2010 was a year of great success and momentum. We continued to serve as an innovation hub for entrepreneurs, universities, organizations and industry by providing access to the right people, the most appropriate resources and the brightest thinking. We began the year with 3,700+ members and we finished with nearly 5,000 spanning across 119 organizations including four of the top five, seven of the top 10, and 19 of the top 25 research universities in the United States. Since our inception we have talked a lot about putting ideas, access, transparency and outcomes at the forefront of today’s innovation agenda and we are pleased to say that in 2010 we added nearly 4,000 innovations to the site and had nearly 160,000 visitors check out what we were doing.

Additionally, we established working partnerships and collaborations with: Knowledge Sharing Systems (KSS) to interface KSS TechTracS® to the iBridge online community, enabling universities and research institutions to better highlight their intellectual property portfolios; and recipients of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), a consortium of 46 medical research institutions dedicated to enhancing the efficiency and quality of clinical and translational research, to seamlessly join users of CTSA’s CTSA-IP initiative with more than 100 other research institutions around the world.

Furthermore, we also implemented our previously announced relationship with the USA National Innovation Marketplace—which is supported by the US Department of Commerce’s NIST/MEP Network and Eureka! Ranch International—to enable innovation and research listings from non-profit organizations to coexist on our site, allowing for even more exposure and collaboration opportunities for them.

And, what is perhaps our most exciting endeavor of the year, we continued our international expansion! In November 2009 we signed the acclaimed Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore’s leading science and technology university, as our first international member organization. We carried that momentum into 2010 with the addition of Toronto’s University Health Network and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.  

Of course, none of this would be possible without the unwavering support and participation of all of our member organizations as well as the commitment of our passionate employees and advisors. We want to thank everyone involved in making 2010 a huge success for iBridge and for innovation and we look forward to continuing our efforts and working with all of you in 2011. Happy Holidays!             

Looking Ahead: Innovation in 2011

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Start ups, Entrepreneurs and Job Creation, Oh My!

In our last several blog posts we have looked at initiatives, both private sector and government managed, aimed at spurring innovation in America. And, as we all know, in today’s current economic quagmire there is much fear, uncertainty, and doubt but, what people may be forgetting is that this is also a time to identify and capitalize on opportunities, specifically when it comes to innovation. Those that bury their collective heads in the sand and hope the bad times pass will miss their window—and innovation will die on the vine. However, if they use this time to continue to drive ahead with ideas and research and look for collaboration opportunities—like those provided on the iBridge Network— we can expect an innovation, and  economic, resurrection in 2011.

However, collaboration and continued research efforts alone will not lead to a successful restart of America’s economy. In addition to existing entities joining forces and sharing resources to take ideas and research from concepts to reality, another key component will be start-ups and the jobs they will create.  

Resurrection, start ups, innovation and their confluence are central themes in a recent article, “Births, deaths and resurrection; Start-ups will help restart America’s economy”, which appears in the latest issue of the Economist, The World in 2011, and also references a recent Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation study, “After Inception: How Enduring is Job Creation by Startups?”.

Several key topics for a successful economic resurrection highlighted by the author, Martin Giles, include: “lean start ups” which is tied to the reduced cost needed to launch a business (estimated at a fraction of the $3M – $5M needed several years ago); loosened purse strings on the VC side due to more reasonable valuations since the downturn—additionally, Giles introduces the concept of “super angels” or wealthy individuals and managers willing to make many small bets as opposed to following the traditional VC model of larger bets on fewer companies; and, lastly, the impending structural change being driven by the two aforementioned factors—newly spawned start ups will be eager, unlike their bigger and more established corporate brethren, to hire staff. The Kauffman Foundation study supports the fact that, despite the high rate of failure by young start ups, many of the new jobs created by new companies do not vanish—75 percent of the jobs created by start ups in 2000 were still in place five years later.

While entrepreneurs, start ups and job creation are critical to spurring innovation and, ultimately, an economic recovery, they alone are not the answer. But, they are a good start as we begin to pull ourselves up by the boot straps and move forward. Time will tell, but it looks like some of the key ingredients and factors are in place and that we are heading in the right direction.

From our vantage point, we have seen several top 25 US research institutions and organizations join the iBridge Network in recent months, emphasizing the need and willingness to collaborate and share ideas and resources to forge ahead on the innovation front—certainly a good sign when taken in the context of the other factors mentioned above. We look forward to seeing how things shape up in 2011.           

Returning America to Innovation Prominence

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Everywhere you turn today, whether it is online, in magazines and newspapers, or on the TV or radio, there are people, companies and organizations offering advice on how to fix what is by far the worst recession since the Great Depression and, specifically, how to place America back on top of the global innovation pedestal.

In our last post  we made mention of Thomas Friedman’s New York Times piece that highlighted a recent effort by the Obama Administration to create eight innovation hubs across the U.S. with a mere $22 million in funding. We also called attention to the strides made by the Administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to bolster the country’s innovation economy through a focus on solutions that support moving innovations from the labs in which they are created into the commercial market where they can positively impact economic recovery and growth.

Additionally, there are several other promising steps in the right direction—a strategic advisory group at SCRA (South Carolina Research Authority) that includes representatives from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the large industry, small business and venture capital communities. This groups’ aim is to help early-stage entrepreneurial companies commercialize new technologies. Also, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a group of pro-growth Members of Congress (68 members of the House of Representatives) who have a focused commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.

All of these initiatives, ideas and organizations are encouraging to see. But, getting back to the first sentence of this post, there is no shortage of ideas and recommendations. The key will be clearly defining roles and responsibilities and, ultimately, execution. And doing that is not easy. Right now, the common denominator to a lot of today’s conversations about innovation, growth and entrepreneurship is the federal government and its perceived role as the major source of capital to reinvigorate our innovation ecosystem.  

Rather than looking solely to government to help drive this forward— the fact is that government resources are severely limited or being scaled back in today’s tough economic environment— companies, educational institutions and individuals must view government, policy and related programs as a piece of the puzzle and not the be all, end all solution . That is not to say that there isn’t a role for government in this process, there most certainly is. But, rather than the sole financial source, the focus of government policy should be on the encouragement and utilization of private market capital and infrastructure. The private sector is more nimble and will move faster and more efficiently (and with better results) than government managed programs. With proper incentives, government policy can re-encourage the healthy flow of capital and talent necessary to resuscitate our innovation economy.

At the iBridge Network believe that times of economic uncertainty and upheaval can inspire extraordinary innovation. Those who view this current downturn as an opportunity can not only stimulate and revive the economy in the short term, but also unearth breakthroughs that are still being talked about decades from now.  

However, without access to the right people, the most appropriate resources and the brightest thinking, ideas and innovations can languish in the laboratory or workshop…and the economy will continue to sputter along. The iBridge Network’s objective is to put ideas, access, transparency and outcomes at the forefront of today’s innovation agenda—working with both the private sector and government in their respective roles to accomplish this. Won’t you join us? Together we can help turn today’s ideas and research into tomorrow’s products and services.

The Future of Energy

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

A famous saying goes “When the shoe fits, you don’t notice it is on.” When something is working properly, one simply is not aware of it. Despite the periodic increases in the cost of gas at the pumps, by and large the global energy sector has run so smoothly that, historically, one rarely stopped to think about it. However, over the past several years that has changed. Nowadays, you can’t open a magazine or newspaper, surf the web or turn on the television without seeing or hearing some discussion about the pace at which humans are consuming energy, specifically fossil fuels, or what new technologies are being developed in the renewable energy space.

The US today consumes energy from many sources for a diverse set of purposes. As we have grown into the world’s largest economy, our energy choices have shifted from wood, biomass and small amounts of coal to those energy resources used for higher forms of human socioeconomic organization such as industry, manufacturing, transportation and communication. In fact, according to the Institute of Energy Research, 85% of the energy we consume comes from fossil fuels.

The rise of the digital age at the turn of the 21st century has driven consumer demand for high-speed computers, laser-jet printers, high-definition television sets, mobile devices and PDAs, and other gigabyte-rich devices. Compound this with the influx of larger SUVs on the road in the U.S. and the development of more buildings, plants and factories in both established and, especially, emerging markets. It all points to an increased demand for energy and perpetuates the ongoing discussion about the need to better manage and conserve energy and / or find alternative sources. In the decades ahead, almost all of the expanding demand for energy will be met by fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable sources – in that order. New sources of energy are also likely to enter the picture. However, that picture is still very much out of focus as politicians, citizens, universities, companies, NGOs, and various other associations and organizations debate the issues of energy consumption and energy management. Every person and organization has a perspective. There is legislation and stimulus funding in place to help spur the movement. And, there are new ideas and technologies being brought to the forefront regularly. At the end of the day, there is still a lot of uncertainty.

The only certainty is that inquiring minds will continue to probe for new breakthroughs. It is at this level that the iBridge Network hopes to facilitate the conversation and play a part in the global energy debate and solution. We recently launched our Energy Innovation Hub— an aggregated place for innovations and research from sources across the United States in a variety of areas, from the broad – environment and energy – to the more narrow – wind, solar, biofuel, and sustainable. Check it out our energy hub.

William Garner, M.D., MPH – CEO of Urigen, N.A., Inc.

"The iBridge Network provides an important additional pathway for entrepreneurs to access university innovations that may otherwise have been lost.  read more...