Innovation shouldn’t be a closed shop. That’s the message that comes out loud and clear from an article in yesterday’s Observer newspaper in the UK.
Writing about his belief that Britain’s future lies in a culture of open and vigorous collaboration, Will Hutton extols the benefits of co-creation and the pooling together of resources.
“Innovation is much more complex than inventors’ light bulb moments, the profit motive and the “magic” of markets,” he wrote. “In essence, it is about jumps across boundaries to combine something new with the old.”
He believes that conventional approaches to scientific research are inadequate for the many challenges society faces. What they boil down to is cash-strapped universities pinning their hopes on their small research teams delivering breakthroughs that can be patented and turned into profit-making products.
The writer is tapping into what many forward-thinking scientists already believe and are trying to change. They see that science can be something of a closed shop where only a few people work on a specific problem. Yet by engaging broader expertise from a wider pool, challenges can be tackled in rapid time-frames and the pace of advances accelerated.
Hutton is calling for a revolution: “Universities need to be freed from the suffocating inhibition to create patents and copyrights for themselves through go-it-alone research, which often means they replicate each other’s work.”
The way forward, he believes is to create open innovation hubs such as the Structural Genetics Consortium which is a public-private partnership involving eight drug companies that pool resources and finances. Together they have achieved more in two years than each could have accomplished in ten.
Another suggestion he makes to break away from the stultifying status quo is to reform the intellectual property regime so that it favors open innovation. This is one of the aims of the think tank that Hutton chairs, the Big Innovation Centre.
To read the full article click here.