Recently, more companies have been vamping up their innovation by creating new products from existing technology through crowd-sourcing and open innovation. The following are a couple of companies that are turning innovation on its head.
About a year ago, Samsung launched the largest think tank powered by crowd-sourcing in Palo Alto, California. This new think tank is Samsung's West Coast division of its Open Innovation Program. This type of venture aligns perfectly with their brand strategy -- consistently bringing the "Next Big Thing" to market. Samsung continually brings new technology to market because it embraces Open Innovation in unique ways. These unique ways include:
- Active in Industry wide Consortiums - By participating in industry wide consortiums, Samsung can analyze different viewpoints throughout the tech industry and stay abreast of new trends and technologies.
- Industry and University Alliances - By creating strong alliances with industry and top universities worldwide, Samsung can promote independent research in universities and sponsor training for students and employees at the universities.
- Collaborate with Equipment and Material Vendors - To ensure that Samsung stays responsible for the quality of its products, it involves itself in the manufacturing and quality-control process of its vendors.
- Worldwide Research Centers - Samsung can quickly bring new technology to market because of its R&D in emerging technologies and materials at these centers.
- Accelerator Divisions - These divisions allow startups to use Samsung products to assist the startups bring new products to market.
- Capital Investment - To acquire next generation technology, Samsung constantly invests capital in the early stages of a startup.
- Mergers and Acquisitions - Samsung constantly creates and encourages a collaborative environment by merging their technology with another company's technology.
Putting Crowd-Sourcing to Work
Recently, Samsung used crowd-sourcing to find the best ways to use its new flexible screen technology. This month Samsung launched the first curved screen smartphone that fits better in a person's palm and pocket.
A benefactor of Samsung's Open Innovation program is Marblar. Marblar is a product development platform that lets users generate ideas for commercial uses of idle scientific discoveries in universities and research labs worldwide. It's original mission is to help authors of scientific discoveries get their ideas commercialized. To do this Marblar employed expert curation, crowd-sourcing, and gamification to encourage lateral thinking, increase creativity, and enhance collaboration along different disciplines.
However, Marblar's business model was shaky. After launching a year ago and curated 30 patents with thousands of product ideas, very few of those ideas reached commercialization. Rather, they returned to the land of misfit ideas -- the original research lab.
Marbler's way of curating was troubling because it required universities to pay a listing fee per patent. As a result, this discouraged universities from releasing batches of IP. Also, when an idea did reach commercialization, its author demanded royalties.
Marblar saw that to fulfill its mission, it needed to convince IP holders to post their discoveries on its site and find commercial partners capable of bringing next generation technology to market who would collaborate with them to bring the next big thing to market.
Marbler's CEO and co-founder, Daniel Perez turned to LinkedIn to find prospective commercial partners. Perez hooked up with Luke Mansfield, Head of Product Innovation at Samsung. Mansfield instantly liked the idea of working with Marblar.
After crafty outreach, negotiations, and dropping its listing fees for patents, Marblar finalized a commitment by Samsung to use Marblar to take existing patents and repurpose them into new technology.
With getting Samsung on board, Marbler changed its business model. It now pays royalties instead of prize money, and gains a 5 percent royalty itself from the commercializing partner.
Also, Marblar will soon curate close to $500 million worth of IP from NASA, South Korea's Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute (ERTI), and the University of Pennsylvania.
Both Samsung and Marbler show the power of crowd-sourcing and open innovation in turning existing technology into new innovative products. Both companies understand that to thrive in the 21st century, the more people collaborating on an idea the more innovative the product and quicker that innovation gets commercialized.