On May 28, 2013, Professor Henry Chesbrough, faculty director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, received an honorary doctorate from Hasselt University in Belgium, which recognized him as “the Godfather of Open Innovation.” Professor Chesbrough coined the term “open innovation” a decade ago with the publication of his first of three books on the topic. In “Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology”, he described a new business paradigm calling on organizations to make greater use of external ideas and technologies or to allow some of their own ideas, technologies, and processes to be used by other businesses.
Before receiving the honorary degree, Professor Chesbrough talked about open innovation during a Q&A session at Hasselt University in May. During the session, he described one indicator of how open innovation has taken off in 10 years. A decade ago, he did a Google search for “open innovation” and found 200 page links that contained the two words in the same sentence. This year, he said, he found 483 million page links about open innovation as a new model of innovation. And what about the future? “We are going global,” Professor Chesbrough told the audience in Belgium. “It’s not how innovation happens in one industry in Silicon Valley. It’s actually a much broader pattern of innovation in many places.” In addition, he believes the role of universities is becoming more central to innovation, noting that universities are competing to be catalysts to stimulate innovation around the world.