Innovative Business and University Leaders Challenge US to Embrace 'Open Innovation' or Get Left Behind

Oct 29, 2010, 15:55 ET from Arizona State University

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While antiquated business models and organizations entrenched in tradition are still the norm in America, open innovation by some of the most progressive businesses and universities in our country, plus a new generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs, are poised to change the way the US does business.  

A forum, "Can Open Innovation Regain America's Competitive Edge?" convened by Arizona State University President Michael Crow, brought together eight leading "open innovators" from around the US to discuss the concept of open innovation in the private, academic, and non-profit sectors of our economy.  

"Open innovation is about collaboration – among firms, public-private partnerships, universities and industry, consumers and producers, etc.," stated Mitzi Montoya, Executive Dean of Technology and Innovation at ASU.  

Montoya suggested that it's a movement away from closed, proprietary ways of doing business to open, innovative systems where previously disconnected stakeholders, and sometimes even competitors, collaborate to leverage resources and tap disparate knowledge.

Panelists discussed challenges to open innovation, and agreed that across all industries there are common issues:  traditional business models that reinforce proprietary thinking; government policy that has allowed too many technology monopolies through patents and IP copyrights; a lack of resources (both financial and viable partners); and as panelist Matthew Von Ertfelda of Marriott International described it "an inherent fear of change."

The internet and the personal computer were mentioned as the best examples of using open innovation practices, and it was suggested that the world wide web would not exist as is does today without Linux and its open source software. Panelists offered that "cloud computing" is poised to further revolutionize the open innovation universe.  

"The only way we are going to solve all our problems is by having more problem solvers," said Diana Wells, President of Ashoka.  She went on to explain that the old model of having a business hub is being re-discovered on the internet, and that in the non-profit world, the best ideas are being shared so that "anyone can take the idea and run with it for the betterment of society."

Panelists were optimistic that their ideas to speed up the acceptance of open innovation are gaining ground.  Universities like ASU are working to make "doing business" with the university easier by streamlining technology transfer and encouraging students to think and act like entrepreneurs.  Companies like Intel are incentivizing innovation and Xerox is focusing on needs-driven models of innovation. In addition, many of the panelists echoed the need for government to re-examine the IP copyright laws and that alone could drastically level the playing field for open innovation.

The forum was moderated by University President Michael Crow and featured eight leaders in open innovation, including Mitzi Montoya, ASU's new Executive Dean of Innovation and Technology.  Other panelists include Diana Wells, President, Ashoka; Amy Stursberg, Executive Director, Blackstone Charitable Foundation; Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO, Red Hat Inc.; Santokh Badesha, Xerox Fellow and Manager of Open Innovation, Xerox Corporation; Matthew Von Ertfelda, Vice President of Insight, Strategy, and Innovation, Marriott International; Chris S. Thomas, Chief Strategist & Director of Architecture, World Ahead, Intel Corporation; and Rob Pegoraro, Consumer Technology Columnist, The Washington Post.

Arizona State University's mission is to establish ASU as the model for a New American University, measured not by who we exclude, but rather by who we include; pursuing research and discovery that benefits the public good; assuming major responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality and health and well-being of the community.  Arizona Technology Enterprise (AzTE) operates as the exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization for ASU.

The forum in its entirety is available as a webcast at  For a full transcript of the forum or for additional information please contact Kate Wells at or by calling 602-703-5231.

SOURCE Arizona State University