China is looking to regain its historical position as a nation with global innovation power. Now is the beginning of change and China is adding open innovation to its portfolio.

For the past four years, Executive Director of Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, Solomon Darwin, travels to China as an Adjunct Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). Keen on learning about Open Innovation, other universities cordially invite Professor Darwin to speak to their students, faculty, and executives. Recently in his travel to China during the summer of 2014, Professor Darwin visited three universities: Shanghai Jiao Tong University, The University of Science and Technology of China, and Hefei University of Technology.
Located in Shanghai, Shanghai Jiao Tong University is a dynamic, culturally rich, and diverse campus. Professor Darwin was invited to deliver his presentation on open innovation on banking distribution. Their interest on emergent trends in banking and the future, the attending executives of SJTU actively discussed open innovation and the impact on banking systems in order to further deepen their understanding and explore the path of innovation.

Solomon-in-SJTU-2014Professor Darwin focuses on the impact of open innovation and the growth of technological developments that will bring change to the banking landscape. This is exemplified in the move to digital currency and ebanking. As banking transaction becomes simplified and the growing notion of ebanking, it begs the question on what is the future of banking – why will we need banks? Only time will tell whether these are disruptive or beneficial impacts. All in all, there will be some big changes.


The University of Science and Technology of China, or USTC, is devoted to continuously consolidating the country’s strengths in science and technology. It is one of the nation’s most prominent universities and has been dubbed as the “MIT of China”. With the rapid development of the Chinese economy and the improving conditions for scientific research, members of USTC are looking forward to expand China’s economic base and innovation through current trends and research.

Over the summer SUSTC invited Professor Solomon Darwin to speak to their faculty members about open innovation and open business models. The Chinese education system still emphasizes rote learning, raising legitimate challenges between creativity and the conservative culture. Darwin emphasizes the need for businesses to thrive on exponential technology and open innovation to overcome these obstacles. The world is ever changing, so in a global competitive market, how can one be conservative and not openly interact? In order for China to become a powerhouse of innovation, it cannot do without interaction and collaboration. For this to happen, there must be a cultural shift and change in their conservative mindset. Professor Darwin stressed that this change and future lies in the younger and more tech-savvy generation. Because the older and current generations are set in their ways and are resistant to changing their technological and organizational structure, the younger generation can explore new ideas and possibilities, and further build upon previous knowledge. These new ideas and experiences will integrate into the culture, thus leading to the shift! He further explains that open innovation will introduce strategic and collaborative advantage for a stronger ecosystem and for themselves. Despite the ever present inertia, overcoming these obstacles will lead to innovative breakthroughs.

Hefei University is one of the key universities committed to economic and social development by pioneering means of improving the education quality, student cultivation, and innovation ability. Interested in open innovation, Hefei graduate students gathered to discuss entrepreneurial opportunities, the growth of Chinese enterprises, and the challenges they may face in the future. In his presentation, Darwin stressed that as the world becomes more intertwined, the incorporation of open innovation and utilization of exponential technology is critical to the success of new businesses and the future generation of entrepreneurs.

The Chinese government views a growing economy as vital to maintaining social stability. As a key driver of economic growth, the government is putting money behind research and development towards innovation. Professor Darwin can advocate on the result of China’s massive investment. Chinese universities have the latest technology and a promising group of enthusiastic and intelligent individuals. They have the facilities, technology, and drive for innovation. As the condition for innovation in China improves and government investment increases, China is takes steps to shift towards an innovative mindset and turn new discoveries and inventions into innovation.