Collaborative Innovation for the Post-Crisis World

Paul Stoffels writes about the 2009 meetings at Davos to wrestle with the global economic crisis and discuss solutions for "Shaping the Post-Crisis World" in six areas, including economics, politics, innovation, science, technology, and new business models. He envisions one major road to economic recovery and that is through innovation. But not the innovation of the past, reliant upon closed activity conducted largely inside organizational walls. Closed innovation fosters a mind-set that is siloed and the dominance of individual institutions over ideas, technologies, and economies, with all the benefits and risks of an undiversified portfolio. To economically succeed today, Stoffels argues that innovation itself must innovate to address the needs and process of the post-crisis world. Conducting innovation as an open activity enables us to harness the power of networked enterprise, multiplying investments and reducing risks because it includes varied experts, institutions, geographies, and resources. Closed innovation isn't without value. The gains of the last two decades in reducing deaths from diseases such as HIV/AIDS and heart disease and extending life spans through novel cancer and HIV treatments are testaments to the power of past innovations in medical science. But, in spite of billion-dollar investments by the world's leading medical research companies, our collective research efforts have not, in recent years, yielded the anticipated fruits. The recent shrinking of drug pipelines is in part a result of moving beyond key discoveries into more complex areas of human health. The sequencing of the human genome has given us reams of data and powerful new tools. But it also reveals how much more remains to be done, and the extraordinary new scale of collaboration that it will take. Open innovation, however, is not some extraordinary ideal or concept. It is happening right now because today's information-empowered flat world makes for a ripe landscape.

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