May 23, 2011

Invent With Nokia?

IAM Magazine posted a question on Twitter last week in relation to the new effort by Nokia to invite independent inventors to submit their ideas for consideration, and possibly commercialization, by the Finish telecoms giant. The Invent With Nokia initiative.

The question was:
“Is Nokia's new initiative to attract innovative ideas from customers collaborative or exploitative?”

My short response to the question is that the Invent with Nokia initiative possibly is a bit of both. But that I am seeing this as an interesting step to further open up with the understanding that most of the innovation is not happening within Nokia.

Nokia already has established collaborations with universities around the world, through the Nokia Research Centers. Where a large portion is directed to forefront research in collaboration and sharing of resources with schools like Stanford, ETHZ and MIT.

By sharing resources, leveraging ideas, and tapping each other’s expertise we are able to create vibrant innovation ecosystems, multiply our efforts, enhance innovation speed and efficiency, and derive more value for our organizations and ultimately for our end-customers.

So I see the Invent With Nokia initiative as a natural way to leverage the collaborative and inventive brand even further.

Nokia explains the rational for this step:
With annual revenues of over €40bn and sales in more than 160 countries, we have an unparalleled market presence and geographic reach. In order to grow further, we need new technology, creativity and innovation.

Even though we have thousands of talented people and invest billions of dollars each year in R&D, we are eager to work with external companies who can bring diverse technology and new ideas to our business. Our successful track record of Strategic Alliances has built a strong collaborative spirit within Nokia.

Not only can we provide the infrastructure that could see your inventions in daily use around the world, you will find us straightforward and clear in your interactions with us.

There will likely be quite a lot of inventors submitting ideas to the initiative and some of them might even be really clever stuff. Much like the gains of similar initiatives, such as P&G’s Connect + Develop, the one really good idea might save the cost of the whole initiative.

However, and it is here where IAM Magazine’s question really comes to show, the financial reward for the inventor is likely to be slightly unclear.

Nokia explains
If Nokia notifies you within four months that it is interested in your invention, Nokia will have the right to apply for a patent based on your invention. In return, you will be eligible for a financial reward. Nokia’s business is very diverse, and the inventions we review are similarly broad. Whilst we take a common approach to valuing and rewarding our partners, there will be some variability. In principle you will be eligible for an award if we apply for a patent based on your invention. You may be eligible for a further award depending on the success of the product and the level of award you choose at the patent application stage.

Will this make innovators less likely to submit ideas for consideration? Probably not, but only time will tell.

Sure, innovators should be rewarded for their efforts, but would the invention have had any spread if not adopted by an industry giant. Probably not.


Johan Orneblad
Follow me on Twitter


Further reporting here

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