This year’s choice topic for the longitude Prize is finding the long awaited answer on the resistance to Antibiotics with an awarded prize of £10 M to be won.The World Health Organization estimates that antibiotics treatments add an average of 20 years to all of our lives. But in the 80 years since the discovery of penicillin, our overuse of antibiotics has put pressure on bacteria to evolve resistance, leading to the emergence of untreatable superbugs that threaten the basis of modern medicine.
Recently, David Cameron committed the UK to leading this global campaign.The challenge is being run and developed by Nesta, with the Technology Strategy Board as its launch funding partner.
Six challenges were initially selected and arguments and selections were made to determine the most important and urgent. They ranged from tackling dementia, water desalination, assistive technology for paralysis, assistive technologies for dementia, climate change by addressing carbon air travel to big food innovation. (consult them on here)
Nesta hopes that the Longitude Prize 2014 will help to promote challenge (or inducement) prizes as a way of solving big scientific problems. This form of awarding is more objective – the one with the best idea wins- and brings about more openness where anyone from a team of university researchers, a start-up, even a lone wolf inventor can participate. Challenges as this also bring clear business benefits. Known companies like P&G and General Mills have been known to open up their challenges to the outside world so as to get solutions. Governments are also crucial in playing a vital role in backing research. The EU, for example, is considering a significant expansion of prizes as part of its Horizon 2020 program.
Nesta will finalize the detailed prize criteria for the main Longitude Prize and publish it during autumn. They are asking for business’ inputs if they find they have missed any criteria.
Do you have an idea to solve the antibiotics challenge? Register your interest and you’ll be alerted when submissions open in autumn 2014.
While most of you may be familiar with the products such as Yoplait greek 100, natural valley protein bar, fiber one 90- calories brownies , and the recently released Fiber One Soft-Baked Cookies , what you may not have know was that these products are a success thanks to open innovation. As you might have guessed, General Mills is one of the world’s largest food companies. It’s marketed in more than 100 countries with net sales at 17.8 billion in 2013.
Mills adopted open innovation (GWIN) 7 years ago with some of their successful open innovation products in the market winning the most innovative product 2013 by consumer good technology magazine.
Mike Helser, a senior manager at GWIN, in a recent interview declared that open innovation helped them deliver innovative products to the market more quickly. A problem they had in the beginning was not being specific and clear about the challenges they wanted to solve in order to find the right partners. But they solved this problem by creating the GWIN platform that clearly articulated the technical problems where the visitors were invited to submit non confidential proposals. This brought them closer to 1000 inventors worldwide and around 500 proposals in the first year.
General Mills has challenged its teams (who are rewarded for their collaboration) to be more connected throughout the innovation process, both externally with outside partners and suppliers as well as internally among divisions and cross-functional teams. The snack division was the first to embrace this practice and a huge encouragement came from the enthusiasm of the leadership.
“Open innovation is the key to keeping up with trends like better-for-you snacking. We don’t have the internal expertise to do everything, which is why we need external partners to help us deliver products that meet consumer needs. We absolutely would not be as successful without open innovation.” Piacek- LIanes , VP of research and development.”
PRIME and the French Consulate in San Francisco came together to create an ‘open innovation club’ ,large French and American companies aimed at fostering open innovation across all stake holders in the innovation ecosystem through an open innovation platform: large companies, start-ups, research labs and universities.
The club will partner together with US French Tech Hub which was inaugurated on February 2014 by the President Francois Hollande during his visit in the Silicon Valley. Mr. Hollande sighted how innovation is the key to everything in globalization and large companies should support innovation coming from other companies. He also mentioned that another way to advance innovation in France was by encouraging big companies e.g. MEDEF to work together with aspiring entrepreneurial graduate students and mentor them so as for them to open new business there on after, something the big Californian companies are already doing.
Mr. Hollande sighted “Large companies should support innovation coming from other companies.”
The open innovation club has already met on several occasions to test their collaboration and open nnovation platform.
On September 2013 in San Francisco during a full day conference on the theme ‘smart cities’. 15 startups in urban innovation met 15 large corporations including EDF R&D USA, TOTAL New Energies, Winnovation-Bouygues, Renault Silicon Valley, BNP Paribas l ‘Atelier, Veolia, Orange, La Poste, Qualcomm, PG&E, IBM, Oracle, Accenture as well as University of California CITRIS, French Research Institute Inria and the cities of San Francisco and Palo Alto represented by their Chief Information and Innovation Officers. They also met at Stanford University in preamble of the California France Forum of Energy Efficiency Technologies (CaFFEET) in a workshop to share best practices on the emerging discipline of Data Governance, a topic under great scrutiny with the explosion of big data, security and privacy issues.
Companies now announce “corporate open innovation centers” and insist on the collaborative dimension of the facility : with the local ecosystem, the local authorities, the clients, SMEs, etc. And – amongst others – with technology providers as well.
what about before?
20 years ago large companies used to open “new R&D facilities” or new development centers”. They used to proudly announce how many Engineers and PhD’s they planned to hire and how they would install the latest equipment to push the technology envelope.
Have a look at the recent AT&T announcement :
“With already $100 million invested in 4 AT&T foundry centers across the world with the help of sponsorships from companies like; Alcatel lucent, Amdocs, Cisco, Ericsson, AT&T is again planning to open a new innovation center for technology innovation and collaboration in Austin. The center will focus closely on data analysis, education as well as video/mobile applications and solutions and will serve as a catalyst for collaborative innovation between educators, residents, community leaders, technologies and entrepreneurs. Community members will also have a great opportunity to create new content for the AT&T’s TV, online and mobile platforms in the studio dedicated for that.”
The rationale ? Time-to-market and better linkages with customer needs and local innovation capabilities :
“With the help of innovation centers as these, AT&T wishes to narrow down the time to bring projects from concept to commercialization from 2-8 years to 6 months. What started as a traditional phone company that originally preferred to develop new services and products in-house, relying on its once formidable AT&T Labs business, has been transformed to a group that is now able to spark a legion of ideas through a massive crowd-sourcing effort by building more relationships mostly with the startup community.”
Sources: AT&T , Siliconhills, PRNewswire
BFM business made a documentary (in French) on how open innovation is changing how companies, big and small, are doing business today. The documentary features big names like Procter and Gamble who were one of the pioneering companies in open innovation. Thanks to open innovation, one of their most successful stories was the febreze product that revolutionized the freshener industry due to the collaboration with an Italian company. Gerald Bailey, the vice president of proctor and gamble home-care products, explains that the partnership not only brought answers on how to innovate the product itself, but they were also able to understand industrialization better and have more flexibility on a design that is practical, scalable and cool for the consumer.
Other examples of companies breaking down the old structure of innovation are Quirky – a New York start-up that has created a kind of an innovation “Facebook” who bring product to the market place through interaction between the online global community and Quirky’s product design staff ,Safaricom – an African telecommunication company holding over 17 million users created a mobile banking system called MPESA that allows transfer as little as 1 dollar , Valeo – invented a car parking system by the use of smartphones through open innovation and many others.
Companies are realizing that during a time like this with an acceleration of the industries and an economy affected by the crisis, they can no longer afford to remain in a closed world. They need to live in the spirit of collaborative innovation for a faster reactivity and reduction of costs.
Look at the full documentary in French on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tckBkpiV3l8