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At Berkeley Haas, Friday, February 20 was a day of new beginnings and collaborations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation. Professor Solomon Darwin opened the meeting with an introduction to projects currently happening at the Garwood Center, including: Open Innovation Leveraging Smart Cities, IBM Watson, Garwood Innovation Fellows, Berkeley Innovation Forum, and World Open Innovation Conference to name a few.

Why is There a Need for Open Innovation?


The problem in today’s businesses, especially legacy businesses, is that after they emerge, establish themselves, and mature into a valuable asset, they will eventually decline in value because ideas get old and lifestyles naturally adapt to the latest emerging trends. As Professor Darwin says “Imagine a business as a treadmill of life that continues to run faster and faster. As the product ages, product lifestyle becomes smaller and speed to market becomes faster. In order to catch up with this treadmill of life, we must continue to innovate.” Thus, the answer to helping a dying business is Open Innovation.


The world is constantly evolving. Today, the market has changed from being supplier focused to customer focused, asset heavy to no assets, and idle capacity to efficient capacity. The Garwood Center teaches companies to think in a new paradigm; Open Innovation between multinational firms, universities, and government structures is crucial to saving ineffective and obsolete business models.


Greatly fascinated by Professor Darwin’s presentation, UAE guests applauded him as he concluded with, “Whatever is essential is no longer in the balance sheet. It is in the capabilities of people enabled by the digital age.” In the age of the Internet, we can no longer rely on outdated methods. The UAE government has an established innovation center, where they hope to incorporate Open Innovation into their center. “Open Innovation is new to us,” says Alya Alali, UAE’s Public Relations and Communications, “We are curious to know how we can best integrate Open Innovation into our innovation model.” Ahmed Al Abbas, Director of Economic Affairs of UAE revealed that the UAE has deemed 2015 as the “Year of Innovation,” an exciting announcement! Dr. Jean Fares, Chief Advisor Cabinet Affairs of UAE, commented on how impressed he was that the Garwood Center fostered collaboration between numerous Fortune 500 companies and prestigious universities: “What surprised me was the depth of relationship with the private sector and practitioners. We are part of a team who’s championing innovation in the UAE, so trying to encourage the government and the private sector to innovate is part of why we are here. Obviously, you guys are pioneers in this!”


Thank you for visiting Berkeley Haas, UAE US Embassy. We look forward to more future engagements with the UAE government.

By: Cindy Ma