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The United Kingdom has historically been one of the world’s economic powerhouses, yet with the changing landscape, how can British businesses continue to thrive? UK executives, academics, and government officials are turning to the vast expanse of Open Innovation research as a solution. Professor Solomon Darwin, one of the leading experts in the field, heeded to this call with a five leg UK tour, proposing innovative solutions for one of the world’s strongest economies.


Maturing Companies Turn Back the Clock

Lancaster University

Ranked in the top 1% of business schools in the world, Lancaster University invited executives from diverse industries to learn about Business Model Innovation, the Dark Side of Open Innovation, and Exponential Innovations & The Changing Landscape. Executives from UK’s National Health Service (NHS), North West Coast Academic Health Science Network (NWCASN), and small to medium sized Lancashire-based businesses were in attendance. NHS, one of the largest employers in the world at 1.7 million workers, were particularly attentive, seeking ways to innovate its longstanding business model. As the world’s largest and oldest healthcare system, NHS looks to innovation and the Garwood Center to solve its problem of non-tax payers reaping the system’s benefits. Read more here.

Innovation to Launch New Markets

Birkbeck, University of London

Innovation: breaking the constraints and establishing a new frontier to boldly go where no man has gone before,” said Professor Darwin during his guest lecture at Birkbeck, University of London, an institution which boasts Nobel Laureates and a British Prime Minister as its alumni. Darwin highlights Airbnb as a model that broke the constraints between product differentiation and cost leadership to launch a new market: students. Companies worldwide seek to follow this innovation trail, looking to Open Innovation and paradigm shift, two suggestions by Darwin, as possible solutions.

All That is Intangible is Gold

Big Innovation Centre

Intellectual property is playing a bigger role in today’s emerging economy. Big Innovation Centre’s Intangible Gold Conference brought universities and companies from diverse sectors together to discuss how they could keep up with the rapidly changing landscape. Professor Darwin, a Big Innovation Centre Board Member, identified recurring problems, such as declining return on assets and corporate maturity. From Oxford to Cambridge, Google to Unilever, executives and academics formed an ecosystem of Open Innovation much like the Berkeley Innovation Forum to share solutions.

Out with the Old: Balance Sheets vs. Dynamic Capability

Barclays Accelerator

Barclays, the world’s 7th largest bank, invited Financial and Technical start-ups into its knowledge base via the Barclays Accelerator, based in The London Escalator. The UK-based banking and financial services company, which traces its roots back to the 1600’s, is seeking to innovate its longstanding business model. A significant disruption in a bank’s business model was raised by Professor Darwin: a shift of focus from a company’s balance sheet to the dynamic capability of its people in order to gauge its revenue-generating capacity. This shift in lending could impact the economic landscape in unforeseen ways.

Innovation: From Classrooms to Boardrooms

University College of London

With its very own Accelerator, UCL fostered a space for post-docs and PhDs to come together and accelerate the launch of new businesses, which draws parallels to the World Open Innovation Forum. By leveraging on academia as a vital resource, the UCL Accelerator echoed Professor Solomon Darwin’s Triple Helix Model, which envisions the collaboration of government, businesses, and academia. Both startup representatives and academics alike were eager to learn the role Open Innovation could play in the acceleration process of countless startups.

 “Open Innovation is no longer an option; it is a requirement in this landscape to prosper and prevail. [Companies] can’t be closed- it’s a license to shut down.”


The United Kingdom has long been hailed for its brand-image. These UK universities and innovation centers can leverage on this as businesses continue to capture the value the UK brand can offer. With a large access to different European companies, the United Kingdom is in a critical position to pioneer an ecosystem of collaboration. In today’s globalizing economy, Open Innovation is proving to no longer be an option. Rather, it is becoming a requirement to prosper and prevail in the ever-changing landscape.


By: Jon Caña