Have you ever stopped to think your next breakthrough product may be right under your nose? Or that ‘local’ could go very global with the right development support and customer-needs tailoring?
As a proud resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, I recently took a look at the
surprisingly rich history of invention and innovation in my hometown and surrounding Fox Valley. Granted, this region is one of the most
patent-rich parts of the Midwest largely due to the intense patenting activities of consumer products companies like Kimberly-Clark Corp. (which usually gets more patents each year than MIT!) and Georgia-Pacific.
Still, I imagine that there are many inventive and innovative people working everywhere, but possibly not being recognized. Here are just a few of the innovations that have come from my small region (population under 200,000 people). The important thing to keep in mind is not just how these were patented, but how they were commercialized. Perhaps it will spark some ideas for you, too.
1. Carbonless paper and a host of innovations related to microcapsules applied to paper. Appleton Paper helped lead the way, developing the coating processes that allowed microcapsules to be applied to paper at high speed without crushing them. Recently Procter & Gamble licensed
Appleton’s encapsulation technology to apply long-lasting fragrance in microcapsules to laundry via Downy laundry sheets. Numerous innovative applications remain to be developed.
2. Cellucotton or creped tissue paper: the absorbent paper wadding material used as a wound dressing and then as the basis for Kotex feminine care products, invented by Ernst Mahler of Kimberly-Clark Corporation. This also led to Kleenex facial tissue and numerous related innovations, including anti-viral tissue, many innovations in processing and packaging, and eventually soft uncreped tissue (with about 50 patents protecting this significant advance in technology, the basis now for several leading products)
3. High performance disposable diapers were invented in the Fox Valley. Key innovations include the use of superabsorbent polymers to increase absorbency and a variety of structures for reducing leakage and improving comfort.
4. The world’s first test-tube tree, a triploid quaking aspen, cloned by Dr. Lawson Winton in April of 1969 at the Institute of Paper Chemistry. Genetic engineering of trees is now the basis for some of the world’s largest suppliers of renewable fiber, such as Fibria of Brazil.
5. “Packaging Container for Microwave Popcorn Popping,” by Tim Bohrer, Tom Pawlowski and Richard Brown of Fort James Corp., now Georgia-Pacific. This patent series led to development of the first microwaveable popcorn package which ensured more kernels would pop and that the package would expand to accommodate the popped corn. The invention was a huge success selling over a billion units per year in North America. The chemical deactivation technology also led to patented processes for products used by Kraft, Heinz, Ore-Ida, ConAgra, and others.
6. LiveYearbook. This is a startup company that is inventing new ways to provide long-lasting, dynamic yearbooks at low cost for schools and organizations. They were the first IT company and first Northeastern WI company to win the Governor¹s Business Prize Award (2010). The programming for this concept is being done here in the Fox Valley.
7. The famous enMotion® paper towel dispenser, the one that automatically delivers towel by waving your hands in front of it, was developed in Neenah by a Georgia-Pacific team.
8. A variety of papermaking advances have their origins in the valley, including Georgia Pacific’s foam-based tissue forming technology that was commercialized in France and novel fabrics for papermaking from Kimberly-Clark, Appleton Wire (now Albany International), and Asten Johnson.
9. Some of the most valuable advances in nonwoven textiles and fabrics came from Fox Valley inventors working for Kimberly-Clark Corp. This includes the foundation for many of the laminated fabrics that are used in medical gowns and other health care products, the soft webs used in diapers and many other products, stretchable nonwovens, and polymer-paper fiber composites.
So take a look both inside your company and your community, perhaps sponsor a talent search or innovation challenge. You never know — mining for innovation talent might unearth the next big thing! At the very least you will be giving your local economy a boost by creating opportunities.
Cheryl Perkins is chair of CoDev 2015. Check out CoDev2015: Launching Products and Businesses with Partners, Customers & Ecosystems, to be held February 9 – 11, 2015 in Scottsdale, AZ.
FREE WEBINAR ALERT:
Open innovation metrics are still evolving. While some have proven effective, companies are not fully satisfied with the results. Is it the metrics themselves? The way they are implemented? Or is it that OI is continually evolving?
Please join me in a live webinar discussion on Tuesday, December 16@ 12 – 1:00 PM ET with leading practitioners from Campbell Soup Company, Clorox and Johnson Controls Automotive. I am planning on a candid, interactive session where we will explore the benefits, challenges, how-to’s, and controversies of measuring open innovation performance.
What You Will Learn:
Which specific metrics tend to yield the most value in achieving OI goals?
How metrics evolve as the level of OI maturity advances
Whether OI metrics should be tied to rewards, used to monitor progress, to make major decisions?
What actions these leading practitioners have seen metrics inform?
When and how do you get organizational buy-in on the metrics chosen?
Should you synchronize with partners? If so, how?
Do you align with corporate strategy? If so, when and how?
What are the must-do’s? What are potential mistakes with metrics to avoid?
Bring your questions, bring your team! Sign up online or call 800-338-2223 or 781-891-8080.
I look forward to your participation.
While shoveling snow this past week, the song Changes, from David Bowie came up randomly on my iPod. You know the song, Ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange. It got me thinking about today’s business environment and the challenges many businesses face, especially the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Change seems to be the only constant in today’s business. While most SMEs aspire to grow their business, ironically enough, when the growth starts to happen, many SMEs are woefully unprepared.
Often times, the management and staff at SMEs lack the experience, resources and capabilities needed to meet the challenges of growth. This can be due to lack of capital, lack of relevant experience, lack of a plan, or a lack of focus and/or generally poor procedures. Some companies spread themselves too thin or over commit, while other companies choose to ignore risk in the assessment of their growth opportunities. Any or all of these factors could cause a company to stumble or worse yet, fail.
Many of these challenges can be overcome by developing strategies and plans to identify and seize the growth opportunities. This should include addressing capital requirements and cash management techniques; conducting skill assessments and resource assignments; developing project plans and clearly defined procedures; and focusing on longer term objectives and true risk assessment of the growth opportunities.
When a business is successful and begins to experience real growth, managing the business growth requires a plan to achieve the desired end result. You should spend time up front developing the strategy and tactics needed to be employed to achieve the growth. Always look to the future and project where you’d like to be. Growth should be less opportunistic and more strategic.
Is it time for your business to turn and face the change?
Pat Clusman is the Chief Operating Officer at Innovationedge. Innovationedge is an innovation consultancy that drives creativity and growth by transforming products, brands and businesses. – Learn more at: http://innovationedge.com/
Check out this video below outlining Royal DSM’s approach to Open Innovation, entitled “Proudly found elsewhere.”
Royal DSM’s Vice President of Open Innovation, Robert Kirschbaum, will be presenting at CoDev 2015 to discuss the cultural changes they think are key to their success and how DSM built its Innovation Engine for Growth, which Mega Challenges were chosen to focus on, and how Open Innovation and Corporate Venturing are applied to speed-up commercialization while mitigating the risks for failure. For more information, click here.
How do you build a solid foundation for breakthrough OI? Six big ideas:
I am seeing more companies realize they need to innovate from the outside in. They recognize growth requires doing new things, not working on the same things competitors are working on. They can no longer just discover, develop and ship to create value nor do they have all the smart people within their walls to create and control all IP.
Therefore, they are laying the foundation for sustainable growth, ensuring their ability to leverage OI best practices on new playing fields with new partnerships and new co-creation strategies. Forward-thinking innovators, like those at Amway, Goodyear and Mondelez, know that successful co-development and outsourcing is built on a solid foundation of people with the right skills doing the right things in the right environment.
I suggest six big ideas to make that happen in your organization:
- Be visible with top-down support and strive for continuous alignment between individuals and disciplines. Open innovation cannot be achieved without making sure all employees and disciplines are on the same page, understand and embrace the vision, and work together to achieve it.
- Create a framework and related toolbox ranging from need identification to deal-structuring. Include criteria to assess opportunities and market potential, charter cross-functional teams and checkpoints for approval, resources, and funding embedded throughout the open innovation process.
- Make smart choices but take smart risks. Smart choices will keep you out of trouble, smart risks will keep you competitive and on the cutting edge of innovation. Learn how to balance the two.
- Leverage early ‘wins’ to drive internal culture change. Like most individuals, it’s hard to have faith in a cause without seeing some immediate results. Make sure you share even the smallest successes with the entire organization to keep morale high and begin the culture changes.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Informed people can move faster, make smarter decisions, and act with more confidence knowing they operate in a culture where information isn’t rationed.
- Above all else, be courageous and persistent. Successful innovation takes time – and so does open innovation when you leverage capabilities and competencies from outside your own four walls.
Once you have these building blocks in place, you can lead your organization into new uncharted territory with confidence.
One of the most important areas for Open Innovation in the last decade has been in the field of healthcare. Wholesale changes in the way Americans consume healthcare have greatly fragmented and complicated the external market and especially the back end of the business side. Today patients must navigate intricate networks of providers and multiple layers of administration that require much more open and engaging relationships in order to properly connect the value of healthcare to the end consumer.
At CoDev 2015, a special panel session has been compiled to bring together key representatives of the healthcare industry, including venture capital firms, to discuss how Corporations are reacting to broad changes, as individuals are taking more control of their health and looking for holistic, integrated solutions vs. a collection of individual products.
This panel session, entitled “Partnerships at the intersection of consumer health and traditional healthcare deliver value,” moderated by conference chair, Cheryl Perkins, will feature the following guest panelists:
- Ben Wiegand, VP and Global Head of Innovation and New Business Models, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies
- Ken McLellan, Global Partnerships Leader, R&D, The Clorox Company
- Nina Kjellson, General Partner, Interwest Partners
- Jim Glasheen, General Partner, Technology Partners
For more information, click here.
At CoDev 2015, Ron Sharpe, an Amway Research Fellow, will discuss his organization’s journey in creating their “Discovery” process which strives to find the intersection of a known consumer need, a viable technology and a business case to create a successful product for the company.
I saw this list of interesting facts about Cyber Shopping and thought I would share:
1. More than 4 percent of Americans admit that they have made an online purchase (via mobile device) while at a social gathering.
2. 78 percent of shoppers use the internet to purchase or research future purchases every year.
3. Amazon is the most popular online store earning more than 48 billion in the U.S each year.
4. Last year was the biggest Cyber Monday yet, hitting $1.7 billion in online spending. That’s a 17% year-over-year increase.
5. Cyber Monday is social too – Last year on Facebook, referral traffic for top retailers spiked 240% compared to other average Mondays.
6. In the past, the average amount spent online per person over Thanksgiving weekend was $172.42. Not too shabby. But the average online shopper spent $194.46 on Monday, nearly 13% higher.
7. Previously, the average number of items per order on Cyber Monday was 8.3. compared to Black Friday, which was 5.6.
8. If you think shopping holidays are geared towards women, you’re wrong. According to a survery, men (43%) actually claim to shop online during Cyber Monday more than women (39%).
9. On a typical day, online sales peak at 11:25 AM EST.
10. Top products purchased online include apparel (31%), books/DVDs/video games (28%) and consumer electronics (25%).
11. Research estimates that the U.S. retail industry will be worth $279 billion in 2015.
12. On Amazon’s peak day, the retail giants sells up so 320 products per second.
Over on our CoDev blog, we’re adding content that will help propel your innovation efforts by seeing trends and best practices from leaders who are taking their Open Innovation models to the next step:
I think this is extremely interesting for those who follow retail and manufacturing trends.
It’s a problem of innovation that has bedevilled numerous Chinese industries, but in particular its automotive companies, which have struggled with quality, consumer trust and an inability to compete with the imaginations of more developed countries.
— Report on Business (@globebusiness) December 1, 2014