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Collaborative and open innovation in the global limelight

June was a hectic month. (That sounds like a parody of TS Eliot, but it really was a hectic month.) There is a lot to catch up with, so I will provide a series of posts, on a variety of topics. The general message seems to be that times are a-changing and that there is an increasing dynamic weight behind open access and open innovation approaches, particularly (but not only) for developing countries. With the major international organisations weighing in and with our new Minister of Higher Education joining the debate at UNESCO, these are indeed interesting times.

As a follow-on from the discussion of innovation and the SA IPR Act in recent blog postings, a  week-old UN debate is relevant, showing up yet again how much the SA legislation seems to be going against global trends.

The  Intellectual Property Watch Newsletter 0f 6 July reported that ‘innovation and technology will be key to emergence from the global economic crisis, according to speakers at a recent United Nations conference on innovation-based competitiveness. However, innovation should be collaborative and involve resources inside and outside companies and institutions.’
The “International Conference on Technological Readiness for Innovation-based Competitiveness” was organised by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on 29-30 June. According to the IP Watch report, a number of speakers at this conference spoke about the need for collaborative innovation, or what  Paula Wasowska, director for Central and Eastern Europe market development for Cisco Systems, described as “connected innovation.”  Connected innovation requires cultural change to collaborative sharing of information, skills and perspectives within organisations and between them, the customers and the partners. “Innovation happens when people work together,” she is reported as saying.

“Innovation is moving from the in-house to the connected global market place, from the isolated individuals to collaborative environment…from proprietary control to open source, from single specialties to multidisciplinary perspective,” she said, and customers have become a critical force of competitive data as they are an invaluable force of information.

In general, this conference seemed to signal the  general acceptance of a shift from a competitive approach to innovation to a collaborative one, even where the mega-corporations like Microsoft and Intel are concerned. This collaboration takes place in and between companies and non-commercial organisations. The ethos, as Wasowska points out, is one of open sharing.

Even more striking was the statement by Claran McGinley, controller at the European Patent Office, that the patent system for ICTs is not working. The important thing about open innovation McGinley is reported as saying, is that “it is a team effort and crosses boundaries.”

The full IP Watch report can be found here.

Posted in Innovation, Open Access.

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