’s 11th Annual Open Innovation Conference

June 17, 2011

We hosted our 11th annual Open Innovation conference in Boston 2 weeks ago.  It was a huge success.  We talked about; trends in innovation and best practices.  A few large companies presented their learnings and plans, a few small companies presented their breakthrough technologies and we had a few case studies…..and a personal favorite – we ate lobster.

In total, we had executives from 3 Continents, with a large group from Japan.  Some of the companies  participating included; Canon, P&G, Agfa, AirProducts, Applied Materials, AveryDennison, Baxter, Bayer, Clorox, Colgate,  DuPont, Ecolab, GSK, Kimberly-Clark, J&J, Kisco, Mellon, Nissan, Panasonic, Parker Hannifin, P&G, Ricoh, Sony, DSM, Invista and NASA!   Add to this, we had 2 dozen selected small companies, with breakthrough technologies.

     I liked the robust Q&A after each presentation.  When Canon’s CTO, Dr. Ikoma-san, presented, 4 other CTOs asked questions.  You cant beat that.  Some themes that emerged

  1. Be ready for disruptive innovation from the bottom of the pyramid
  2. Regional R&D, with Global Sourcing
  3. Squash the immune response – accept ‘fuzzy data’
  4. Enable personal risk taking
  5. Engage ‘Renewal Searches’ – at the middle and the end of R&D

We spent a lot of time discussing how to optimize deals between large and small companies.  This has been a reoccurring theme are our events.  Even when there is a great technology fit, deals take more time than both parties would like. Read the rest of this entry »

NASA Announces Results of Pilot Program With

April 6, 2011

HOUSTON, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Space Life Sciences Directorate (SLSD) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston announced results of a pilot program conducted by that identified partnerships to work on six technical needs related to human spaceflight. The needs range from better food packaging materials to a portable bone-imaging device.

SLSD engaged the services of open innovation service provider as part of a series of pilot programs during the last two years. In an effort to expand open communication and to create additional opportunities for public involvement with NASA, open innovation service provider (OISP) platforms are under evaluation.

“Open innovation has been a critical component of SLSD’s broader innovation strategy,” said Jeffrey R. Davis, director of SLSD. “This strategy has strengthened our ability to make connections with organizations to address our research and technology needs that we would not have known about using more traditional approaches. Given the favorable results achieved through this pilot study, we will continue to pursue the use of OISP as one tool in our innovation toolkit.”

Based on NASA’s specific technological needs, acted as a technology scout, providing a broad external network of experts as potential collaborators with NASA. A relationship can be established with these contacts to develop new technologies.’s system also can be used to maintain established networks for future collaborations. The results from the pilot study show potential for long-term efficacy of OISP platforms.

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Matt Ridley – When Ideas Have Sex (we all win)

August 22, 2010

I just heard a fascinating talk by Matt Ridley, who makes the convincing case that through history the engine that drives productivity is the meeting and mating of ideas.  It’s not important how clever the individuals are, he says, what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.

If this is true, then how we filter out the thousands of ideas we learn about every day to focus on the one or two that are key to understand – is a key skill.  Where we get ideas and how we filter them – and how we mate them – is critical to being good parents of productive ideas.  While ‘crowd sourcing’ is one way to comb the singles bars for good ideas – perhaps there is another more productive way to mate the key ideas that will help your company grow?   Perhaps we need a ‘grandmother’ to help make the connections? Asia – Obsevations From Last Week in Japan

February 2, 2010's Tokyo Office - The 2nd Floor

I spend a lot of time in Asia, in particular Japan. has had an office there for 10 years.           

Why?  1) Because so much of the worlds technology and patents are created there; 2) Because so many of the worlds largest companies (buyers of patents and technology) are there and 3)  Because it’s a great launching pad into to; Korea, Taiwan and broader China.            

 I made my first trip to Japan promoting Open Innovation and patent liquidity, in 1999.  Since 2000 we have had the same team on the ground – managed by Fujii-san.      I was in Japan in December and I was there again last week.  Here are a few observations from my trip;     

1) The economy is recovering – slowly – but it is happening.     

2) Unemployment is still to high.     

3) Patent acquisition budgets are growing – and turning back on     

4) There is  a surprisingly large pipeline of new technologies / product about to be launched.     

5) Location based technologies and human/machine interface technologies are of high interest, among others.     

6) There is a great 4 mile run around the Royal Palace that is perfect for jet lag.     


Makino-san, Fujii-san, Me, Takeuchi-san on Friday 1/29/10

Signal to Noise Ratio

January 30, 2010

Life is cluttered with noise; from pop up banners to drivle. In between all of this nosie, are the signals that really matter. The ballet recital of my 3 year old. The conversation about public policy with my Dad. The moment of technical clarity on a new biomaterial.

The art of life is optomizing the signal to noise ratio. High Interest Technology Areas

October 26, 2009

Overseeing a hub of global technology exchange, now enjoys fascinating insight into broad buying trends across the technology marketplace – the aggregated ‘shopping list’.

Every day is presented with information about market demand and supply regarding a broad range of technologies. Thus daily, our Boston, London and Tokyo offices receive 5–6 data points of serious buyers’ interests in specific technologies. Our definition of “serious” buyers is senior technologists from Global 1000 companies with approved budgets and active projects to pursue specific technology opportunities. We abstract this information into an internal High-Interest Areas database, collecting the most sought-after technologies in space.

Periodically we analyze these data points into a broad mapping of market interest, trends and specific technology areas in which sees high market interest from these serious buyers.

This is one of the most interest and valuable reports yet2 completes, and is my favorite activity.    It’s an evergreen process, because new data keeps rolling in and every few months we aggregate and publish it.  Here is the latest overview.

Read the rest of this entry » Conference – A Few Pictures

October 7, 2009

We had a fantastic event.  This was our 10th – in 10 years.  122 guests came from 3 continents.

We had many leaders in Innovation and Technology together, from IBM, to P&G, to DSM to SAP – and listening to their vision of the future was fascinating.

There were also 16 small companies with a wealth of new technology.  Two examples; Vincent Ribas came from Madrid to present his way to measure blood pressure (and other things) with light.  Yagi-san came from Tokyo to present his new encapsulating technology.  Lots of fascinating discussion.

When doing technology deals – it’s all about people.  Which is a key reason we have been hosting our own event for 10 years now….

I’ll send out a more detailed description of the event, but I did want to share a few pictures:

_BD31771Tom Reeves, VP of IP and Licensing at IBM, is about to start his presentation.  IBM filed 4,500 patents last year.


Jason Lye (Newell Rubbermaid), Thomas Jacobs (Material ConneXion), Chip Murray (DuPont), Ben duPont (yet2), Nob Tamagawa (yet2)

Yagi-san (Ellie), Rob Kirschbaum DSM Takeda-san (KISCO)

Read the rest of this entry »

The 3rd trend….The corporate farm team

August 15, 2009

In 1960 the world was a simple place.  A few large companies dominated each major industry and they were skeptical of new ideas, especially ones that were not theirs.  This was called NIH (Not Invented Here).  Great technology, and great new ideas were concentrated in a few labs, and they did not transfer from one company to the next or one geography to the next.

Today, that landscape has dramatically shifted.  Large companies are creating a lot less research as % of all research, and small companies are creating much more.  Today 80% of the Fortune 500 have technology scouting programs to find this technology.  Companies are moving from NIH to PFE (Proudly Found Elsewhere) .  As an illustration of this, the volume of patents that have been licensed in just the past few years has gone way up.  Technology is starting to transfer – it is flowing from one company to the next and from one geography to the next. Read the rest of this entry »


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