Open Innovation: how local companies are using existing resources to tap into new industries.

Author:Mead, Chris
Position:FEATURE - Interview

The Detroit Regional Economic Partnership, the economic development arm of the Detroit Regional Chamber, recently launched a new, collaborative initiative called "Open Innovation." Its goal is to help members connect with other businesses globally to develop and apply innovation and thus diversify into new sectors and markets, thereby increasing their competitiveness and growth and improving our overall economic climate.


Dean Johnson, the Partnership's senior director of Global Business Development, and Mike Shapiro, director of Regional Business Development, discuss the concept of Open Innovation and its potential impact on your business in an interview with the Detroiter.

How do you define Open Innovation?

It means companies working together across sectors and markets to develop a new technology, product or process. These companies, although often from different sectors, have common needs that can best be met by pooling their respective and varying competencies. It's a "push-and-pull" process in that it connects companies that have a need (or pull)--to companies that have a solution. The "push" dimension applies to companies that have a new technology, product or process that they wish to apply in the market or sector, or they have an existing technology, product or process that they wish to apply in a new market or sector. It is a process that is open to collaboration with companies in other sectors or markets, rather than remaining locked in the silo of a given sector or discipline (such as science and engineering).

What is the status of the Open Innovation initiative?

It is in its initial year. Using WIRED grant money from the U.S. Department of Labor, we are working with a coalition of community colleges in Southeast Michigan that have programs to train workers for specific industries, sectors and technologies. We are also leveraging financial and investment instruments to foster innovation as well as public policy issues to support innovation. These three components fall under the third dimension, Innovation Enabler (see chart). We also continue to foster strategic relationships with key "pull" companies in the aerospace, medical device, transportation, chemical, automotive and other industries. These relationships are integral to the placement of new innovations as they come to market.

How is the Chamber working with other organizations and stakeholders on this initiative?

We are currently involved in a...

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