How do you kickstart innovation and economic growth when all the world is hurting? You open the door to your larder to the community with a generosity of spirit and sense of openly sharing for the greater good.
Every major corporation in the world has a larder full of Intellectual Property, projects that emerged from the depths of R&D or design that never make it to light for one reason or another. The majority hold on to their patent portfolios seeking to maximize the return on their investment dollars, both in terms of time and money, one day. Then there are those who take that famous Finn, Linus Torvald's 'open source' philosophy to heart.
Nokia has just announced plans to give away all the concepts, IP, designs and ideas that emerged from their R&D but will never make it through their production lines. They see it as a form of CSR or even 'recycling':
There is a direct link to corporate responsibility though. Not only does this impact consumers (more ideas developed into products) but it also impacts employees (see the previous note on scientists and developers seeing their ideas come to life) alongside giving more local businesses a helping hand. This initiative can't be underestimated for its potential impact. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out over the next three years. We're hoping to keep tabs on those ideas that get passed out and what happens to them in the next stage of their development cycle.
but its more than simply corporate social responsibility or giving back to your community and roots. For all of us who may have felt the frustration of 'non disclosure agreements' or ideas that gathered dust on client's shelves, its a message of hope that if an idea or concept does not make it to development, it can still see the light of day, somehow, somewhere.
Its also an exercise in social and economic development of an industry sector, since this 'donation' of IP will be accompanied by funding and business development support by other players such as Tekes, Technopolis and the local cities themselves. Here's different snippet for an idea of the kinds of products and services being shared,
The innovations released by Nokia are in areas such as environmental and energy-related solutions, location based services and advertising, near field communication, mobile security, health care applications and future internet services, among others. The objective is to evaluate the thousands of available innovations and select around one hundred to be matched with a company which demonstrates the best ability to exploit them, and which is then granted funding for further development and commercialization.
Imagine turning the whole 'startup approaches the VC' concept on its head - demonstrate you've got the ability and competence and we'll not only give you the concept developed with the kind of resources no start up could ever command but there's funding available as well as business development support. Or to put it another way,
"Speeding up the economy calls for a new degree of openness. We hope that the Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill sets an example that companies across other sectors will follow. The current economic climate is just right for a critical evaluation of intellectual property portfolios and the release of the innovations that are more suitable for others to exploit," continued Aho.
Who was it who said that 'Ideas are free, its what you do with them that counts' ? I don't recall, but I do look forward to seeing what happens when idealistic concepts of openness, sharing, community spirit and doing good are manifested so tangibly with the euros to back them.
Niti Bhan focuses on offering strategic insight for growth opportunities and revenue generation in the rapidly evolving interstitial space between design and business. Her 15 years of experience include employers such McCann Erickson Worldwide, Hewlett Packard India, The Second City and most recently, the Institute of Design. She is an engineer and an MBA whose most significant achievement in the field of design has been dropping out of two graduate design programs on two continents in two centuries - the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and the Institute of Design, Chicago. Her areas of interest are business intelligence and trends, business strategy as well as creating a compelling user case for design as force for increasing value.