Posted on behalf of Christof Fellmann and Nisha Narayan
The potential of open innovation to revitalize the R&D industry will only be realized if organizations provide the right environment and support, according to speakers at this year’s BioVision forum in Lyon, France.
Open innovation, in which researchers team up with external collaborators to help develop and market technologies, can help bridge the gap between industry and academia and offers opportunities to scientists who combine research with management and policy-making. But innovation can be stifled by scientific conservatism, said Leroy Hood, president and co-founder of the Institute of Systems Biology in Seattle, United States.
New organizational structures may be required to support innovation as bureaucracy impedes innovative solutions. “In the end, innovation comes from one person,” said Hood. “Its success will depend on whether this person is embedded in an environment that fosters the development and translation of new ideas.”
Organizations looking to innovate need to allow disruptive thinking and carry out high-risk, unconventional research, added Bernard Munos, founder of the US-based InnoThink Center for Research in Biomedical Innovation.
Open innovation can help keep ideas flowing in an established institute, and there are a variety of ways to implement the strategy. Energy company Total Gas & Power, for example, is trying to enter the ‘clean-tech’ sector by collaborating with start-ups. Vice-president of R&D Vincent Schachter explained that researchers from a dedicated internal R&D division work alongside the start-up company’s employees at their place of work. This strategy allows Total to circumvent the problems associated with outsourcing research and enables them to be at the source of innovation potentially driving their next-generation business model.
Making innovation a priority can also have financial benefits. While focusing on small, incremental improvements to a product or technology is often expensive, “breakthrough innovation is much cheaper”, said Munos.
Hood, Munos and Schachter were speaking at the “How to solve R&D’s challenge with Open Innovation?” session alongside other expert speakers at the BioVision forum.
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