Cleaving Protein Disulfide Bonds

Published Feb-11-10

A chemistry solution to a problem that stank – a new way to cleave disulphide bonds to prevent odor release from the processing of a consumer product.

A Global 500 Company

The Story:

Cleaving Protein Disulfide Bonds A Global 500 company needed help with a widely known and long-standing industry problem, so it followed a course that an increasing number of companies are taking – it turned to an online open innovation knowledge broker for help.

Competitive Edge

To stay one step ahead of their competitors companies are vaulting over their walls to reach out to networks of experts who can help them remain at the cutting edge.

There are a variety of ways that organizations are innovating via open innovation. Two of the most popular models are:

  1. Open competitions where prize money is awarded for the best solution to
    a specific challenge

  2. Approaching a knowledge broker such as IdeaConnection to post the
    problem to a global network of potential solvers.

Help with an Unpleasant Smell

This particular Global 500 Company wanted a solution to a dilemma that it faced in a particular product category. The product in question had an undesirable side effect that was evident during processing and use by the consumer – it released a disagreeable scent.

The knowledge seeker worked closely with knowledge broker NineSigma to outline the specifics of the challenge, and it involved cleaving disulfide bonds; these are typically strong bonds that form within a molecule or between molecules. The Request for proposal (RFP) was distributed to a vast network of potential solvers and it sought ideas for reagents, particularly odor-free ones that would cleave the disulfide bonds within proteins whilst having a minimal effect on other bonds.

World Class Solutions

Submissions came from universities and companies across North America, Europe and New Zealand with the winning proposal sent in by an unlikely source. A company in New Zealand had been working on and perfecting the technology that the Global 500 Company needed, but it was for the wool industry. The solution seeker was surprised to have found the answer in a completely different industry from the other side of the planet.

Knowledge Brokers are Pivotal

The role of knowledge brokers is key; they play an important part in the open innovation process and accelerate the search for answers. Their skill is to match the seeker with the right solvers for the problem in hand.

This is perhaps more necessary now than it has ever been before as globalization means that new products are quickly behind the times and a constant flow of innovations is needed for competitive advantage.

But it’s not always just about the products; it is also about reformulating processes and staking out a pitch in new markets to meet the needs of new customers.

The beauty of open innovation is that the world becomes a research and development department that offers access to some of the cleverest brains around to companies who want to innovate or find answers to their thorniest problems.

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