PARC: Being ‘Open’ Powers a New Business Model

by, Steve Hoover, CEO of PARC, a Xerox Company

Steve Hoover, CEO, PARC, A Xerox Company

Xerox did something bold 10 years ago when it incorporated “Xerox PARC” as the independent subsidiary known today as “PARC, a Xerox company”. By opening Palo Alto Research Center up as a commercial business that could work with many diverse clients – instead of being solely an R&D center for a single client – Xerox helped create at PARC a new model for innovation.

Broadly referred to as “open innovation”, this model provides a framework where Xerox – or for that matter any company – doesn’t have to directly commercialize everything coming out of its R&D. Because let’s face it: no big company ever can. 

The point of R&D is to expand a company’s current and future options, and sometimes it can cash in on those options and sometimes it can’t. And while companies should always have a portfolio in place to balance seemingly conflicting short- and long-term goals, the open innovation model allows companies to sell what they can’t use, or buy what they do need, to achieve their goals… whatever they are.

Given its goals, Xerox still benefits from the diverse set of competencies and expertise at PARC. But now other companies can commercialize some of those very same competencies and expertise – in very different fields of use – for their goals.

Let me emphasize that this is more than “research for hire”. Based on 10 years with this open innovation business model, PARC has learned that the ideal engagements are when we co-develop with clients based on strategic insight into their roadmaps, or when we architect the ecosystems that help move early-stage technologies to market realities. [See for what we’re doing with printed electronics and content-centric networking, for example.]

Innovation is growth. And by creating growth while also reducing risk, open innovation – especially as defined given PARC’s experiences here – enables companies to realize new opportunities, faster, which is especially important given the speed and competition of innovation today. Perhaps more importantly, it enables impact on people’s everyday lives.

So open innovation is a win-win model, or, as business expert Jim Collins would say – it rejects “the tyranny of the ‘or’ and embraces the “genius of the ‘and’”…and that’s where PARC is today.

 Stephen Hoover is CEO of PARC, a Xerox company, which is in “the business of breakthroughs” – see There, you can also watch “PARC Forum” videos of leading invited experts on different aspects of innovation… and many other topics!

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