Want More Patents? Get More People Involved

Some ideas on how to kickstart Open Innovation in your research organization.

By Gregory Pings, manager, Content Marketing, Xerox

The thing about inventors? They’re really good at inventing stuff. But where do they get their ideas?

many small light bulbs equal big oneThe idea of the Edisonian character whose mind whirls through great ideas, like a hamster on a wheel,  is the stuff of legend. But not every inventor is legendary – at least not yet. Anyone who aspires to filing a patent, be it the first or the hundred and first, needs two things: Inspiration and a path to market.

With more than 10,000 active U.S. patents under their collective belts, Xerox researchers know a thing or two about getting good ideas to the market.

Open Innovation is the idea that companies should share their intellectual property by developing licensing and partnering agreements with each other. Even more opportunity lies with connecting researchers from  academia, government and industry.

“There is lot of knowledge just sitting idle in academia that could be turned into investment options for economic development,” Santokh Badesha, a Xerox research fellow noted in an article published by Center for Innovation Management Studies.

The Xerox Research Centre Europe collaborates with the wider European scientific community on a variety of R&D projects. Among their Open Innovation programs:

  • Visiting scientists have delivered a series of seminars over the years, which has often led to long-term collaboration with our researchers around the world.
  • Doctoral candidates split their time between the research lab and a business enterprise.
  • “Dreaming Sessions” connect our researchers and engineers with our customers. These sessions uncover needs and pain points that can be solved with a bit more research and insight.

Getting Unstuck
The potential that Open Innovation provides is great. PARC’s senior director of strategy, Lawrence Lee, said “… companies tend to do well when they focus on their short-term business or develop options for long-term growth. It’s the middle space — that transition from shiny new object to a young business that needs care and feeding — where they get stuck,” he wrote in the HBR Blog Network. “This is where open innovation can help, especially for companies [that] want to move beyond simply sourcing ideas toward extending their core business into new markets.”

Open Innovation is the type of collaboration that allows researchers to see the world in new ways and chart the course that will enable customers to do great work today – and in years to come.

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