Innovation For the People, By the People

26 May 10

When we think about government these days, “open” and “collaborative” aren’t the first words that come to mind. Bureaucracy is typically a hindrance to innovation—both in the business and the public sectors. Forward-thinking government agencies, however, are seeing the potential of tapping into group intelligence and mass collaboration to better embrace innovation.

In the U.S., President Obama has challenged his cabinet members to ensure that every federal department finds ways to openly discuss innovative solutions with the public over the next 18 months.

In response, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launched the Open Innovation Portal in February 2010 as a tool to reach out to the community for solutions to educational challenges, such as increased high school dropout rates and low reading scores. The Open Innovation Portal now has more than 4,000 members, each of whom can post innovative ideas and rate others’ ideas based on defined criteria. Organizations and businesses can even post “challenges” for members. For example, IBM is providing $500,000 in grants through the Open Innovation Portal to support educational innovations that integrate IBM technologies. Read the rest of this entry »


Opening Up for the Environment

12 February 08

IBM, Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes recently announced their Eco-Patent Commons initiative through which the fourfuturethink_eco-patent-commons companies will be releasing environmental conservation-related patents to the public. The effort is designed to help other companies leverage effective methods of cutting down waste and inefficiency. IBM, for example, has eliminated Styrofoam from its packaging and shipping because of its patented packaging design for a five-sided, shock-absorbing tray. Nokia is giving away patents related to its methods of re-tooling old mobile phone components into new electronics such as clocks and calculators. Together, the four companies are giving away 31 patents, all of which are available on the Web site of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It’s great to see these companies taking such a progressive leap forward in terms of opening up their intellectual property for the greater good. Learn more at Bloomberg and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.