I recently read Twelve Principles for Open Innovation 2.0, an article published last year in Nature by Martin Curley. Curley, - who’s long been involved with innovation in both his business and academic positions, - nicely summarized its evolution over the past several decades, first from closed to open innovation, and now to what he calls open innovation 2.0. Let me discuss each of these phases of innovation.
Closed innovation was the general approach followed by industrial R&D labs during much of the 20th century, - e.g., Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, IBM Research. Their scientists and engineers came up with a variety of technology breakthroughs and inventions, including the transistor, the laser, the UNIX operating system, the personal computer, DRAM, disk drives, relational data bases and many more. But, over time we learned that while breakthroughs and inventions are absolutely necessary, they’re not by themselves sufficient for a business to become an innovation leader and achieve competitive advantage in the marketplace. Examples abound of companies that failed to commercialize the inventions developed in their labs.
As the rate and pace of technology advances accelerated, - most prominently in the IT industry, - the closed innovation model started to fall apart. The hand-offs and elapsed times to take an invention from the lab to the marketplace were no longer competitive. Startups did away with the gaps altogether, significantly decreasing the time-to-market for new products and services, and putting huge pressure on those enterprises still operating under the old rules.