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From Kuwait to the Silicon Valley, Design Thinking to Venture Creation, the KFAS Innovation Challenge, sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Center for Executive Education, provides a mindset and toolkit for innovation across carefully selected Kuwaiti businesses. One of these tools, as presented by Professor Solomon Darwin, is Open Innovation.

What are some of the problems today’s enterprises are facing? Darwin identified shortened product life cycles, leading to a heightened price of innovation, as such. He goes on to mention the disappearance of Return On Assets, as well as the conversion of traditional assets to knowledge assets. To adapt to this new landscape, Darwin promotes an engagement with a variety of groups: multinational firms, international universities, and whole countries, to name a few. “Innovation takes place across industries far more effectively,” Darwin says.

Professor Darwin highlighted Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC) to exemplify the costs of closed innovation versus open innovation. Their funnel-like model selected only a few ideas from Research and Development, while putting other ideas on a shelf––one way in, one way out. These shelved ideas, known as ‘false negative errors,’ led to value in other companies instead, such as Apple and Adobe. Xerox created the value, however, unlike companies in an Open Innovation ecosystem, they didn’t know how to capture it.

Knowledge assets evaporate,” highlights Professor Darwin. He suggests licensing off the 90% of IP that a company typically deems useless. “Before they evaporate, make some money,” says Darwin. He reassured the executives that Open Innovation is not free, but rather “an exchange of knowledge that provides the best value for society.


By Jon Caña