Monday, May 3, 2010

Learning From A Decade Of Open Innovation At DSM

C. Engdahl reporting from FEI2010

Learning From A Decade Of Open Innovation At DSM
FEI2010 Presenter: Rob Kirschbaum, DSM Innovation Center

Rob Kirschbaum, the VP of Open Innovation at life sciences and materials sciences company DSM (Royal DSM N.V.¸headquartered in the Netherlands) is no stranger to open innovation. He has accumulated more than a decade’s worth of experience in various innovation roles at DSM. His presentation as part of the Beyond “Open” Summit during the first day of FEI2010, highlighted some of the organizational aspects of DSM’s innovation success – including the company’s strategic commitment, tailored organizational structure, external partnerships¸ and a drive for continuous improvement. Perhaps more interesting though were the details and specific examples presented by Mr. Kirschbaum regarding DSM public-private partnerships and the products that result from them.

Mr. Kirschbaum suggested “the quest for sustainable development will be the main trend in the coming decades” and that collaborative approaches are needed to effectively confront the challenges (or rather crisis) created by the over-exploitation of the global eco-system - which involves water resources, toxic materials and waste (PBTs), climate change, and the degradation of bio-diversity. DSM tackles these challenges by first envisioning a fully functioning Biobased Economy, complete with “sustainable products and energy, with positive effects on economy, society, and environment,” and then developing sustainable products to fulfill this vision. These products include renewable resource-based plastics (such as EcoPAXX™, a Bio Nylon), subcoal technology renewable fuel pellets (from QLYTE), and nano-technologies for various functional coatings (transferred from The University of Sheffield). All of these innovations are made possible through technology transfers and collaborative partnerships and alliances with other organizations. “You must reach beyond your own walls to sustain innovation,” Kirschbaum suggests. It is better to say that “The World is Our Lab” than it is to say “The Lab is Our World”.

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