EIRMA Insight

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 EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners at EIRMA meetings. Follow up our Action Points, things that you can do right now to make R&D and Innovation more efficient. Learn from practical guides on your subject of interest.





The Role of Researchand Innovation Units in Navigating Global Trade Challenges

What role should industrial R&D facilities and innovation units have in the way that large companies, and the wider European economy, navigate an increasingly protectionist world?

Alejandro Sanz, of consultancy SagaX.tech, used a recent EIRMA webinar to outline the challenge and opportunity for the R&D function in today’s trade environment.

Sanz opened his remarks with an analysis of the current situation, based on Europe’s exposure to changing trade patterns. He pointed out that countries such as Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Russia are strong exporters. Many EU companies derive 40% to 50% of their revenue from exports, and some as much as 70%. This is good, but also makes these countries and companies massively dependent on these external markets.

Europe’s R&D spend is “not bad overall”, compared with places such as the US, China and India, but it lacks the massive pump-priming investments of US agencies such as NASA, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health etc. The US also takes advantage of massive private investments in technology development, from companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and the venture-funded start-up community.



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Taking a Sutainable Desalination Strategy from Blue-Sky Reasearch to Industrial Application

The world faces a coming crisis in access to fresh water, according to analysis undertaken by UN-Water, the coordinating body for the United Nations’ work on water and sanitation. By 2025, it predicts, 1.8bn people will be living in absolute water scarcity. By 2050, if we keep putting economic development first, even countries such as the UK will face mild to severe water stress.

It’s in this context that Thomas Schäfer, a research professor at POLYMAT, University of the Basque Country; ERC grantee; and cofounder of a company called Surphase; used a recent EIRMA webinar to describe how his 20 years of experience in membrane technology led him to launch a company that he claims offers a better way to do desalination.

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 When Big meets Small - How to Successfully Incubate New Businesses in Traditional corporations

Large industrial companies, many with decades of experience, are under pressure to deliver returns like those achieved by teenage West Coast and Chinese start-ups. The mismatch between the long-term outlook of incumbents and the ‘move fast and break things’ strategies of disruptors makes this a challenge. Many large companies are therefore turning to the next best strategy: working with start-ups or imitating the way start-ups create new businesses. EIRMA members met at Siemens Research Headquarters in Munich, under the chairmanship of Norbert Lütke-Entrup, head of technology and innovation management, Corporate Technology, Siemens, to explore the best ways to make this happen.

Logged-in members can download the Insight here

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 Can Spintronics cut Big Data's Energy Bill? 

The rapid global uptake of information and communications technology (ICT), in everything from mobile phones and connected cars to the cloud-computing infrastructure that supports them, is creating a major demand for energy that, in turn, may lead to more greenhouse gas emissions and the related climate change.

Bernard Dieny, chief scientist at SPINTEC and head of lab at CEA Grenoble, used a recent EIRMA webinar organised in the context of ERC=Science Squared, a program sponsored by the EU and Science|Business, to argue that a technology that he has been developing for years and which is now being commercialised could have a major impact on energy use in ICT.

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 REASAVER - a Portable Pension to Encourage Researcher Mobility

Freedom of movement is one of the fundamental tenets of the European Union, but for many researchers this theoretical right to live and work anywhere in the Union is constrained by the practicalities of a pension tied to a particular company or institution.

The European Commission has recognised this barrier to the development of researchers’ careers, and to its own ambition to create a European Research Area in which researchers can circulate freely and institutions can hire on the basis of excellence. Its response has been to create RESAVER, an occupational pension scheme that should, eventually, give researchers greater freedom about where they work.

Slaven Misljencevic, of the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation, used a recent EIRMA Webinar to explain the RESAVER scheme.

Logged-in members can download the Insight here

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 New Techniques and Best Practices to make the Most of Knowledge 

It is expensive to discover knowledge, and easy to lose track of if it isn’t looked after carefully. Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management (KM) met at Michelin’s Research Center in Clermont-Ferrand to discuss the latest tools and techniques for managing knowledge in commercial research and development processes.

Nicolas Dubuc, chairman of the SIG, and Fellow for technology intelligence and knowledge management at Michelin, opened the meeting by outlining the challenge ahead.

We’re trying to find new ways to do KM within the enterprise. Classically, KM was document management, but now we're looking for new ways forward.”


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Using the power of gamification


How do you get a globally dispersed R&D organization to work together more closely, to share and jointly develop ideas, and to give a voice to those who are not usually heard?

Mark Lostak, deputy vice president group R&D, Air Liquide, used an EIRMA Webinar in January 2018 to talk about how his company used gamification techniques (that is, tools and strategies borrowed from gaming) to achieve all of the above.

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Big Data and Artificial Intelligence 


How will the advent of Big Data analytics and artificial intelligencechange the way that knowledge is managed in large organisations? Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management (KM) met at Philips Center in Amsterdam, in November, to discuss this rapidly evolving topic.

In this EIRMA Insight you can read about:

  •  How IBM is trying to use machine-learning techniques to recognise relationships among concepts held in very large datasets and so to make inferences and develop new knowledge
  •       How a researcher at the University of Cambridge is trying to use machine-learning techniques, applied to very large patent databases, to help R&D managers decide which technologies to develop next
  •      Details of Philips’ approach to applying knowledge management across its organisation to make it easier to connect all the disciplineswithin the company necessary to enable new healthcare products and services
  •      DSM’s efforts to create a toolbox of Big Data strategies it can apply across its business
  •      Philips’ work on humanising the application of Big Data by focusing its use on customer stories 
  •      Nestlé’s efforts to move towards a data-driven business, where data analytics is applied right from consumer preference testing through to manufacturing
  •     How TomTom built a business on selling satellite navigation systems, and then started to exploit the data that came back from those satnavs to build another business
  •      Participants’ thoughts on:
  • o How to get started with Big Data and AI
  • o Organisation and deployment
  • o Implementing processes and tools to extract knowledge from Big Data
  • o The challenge of taking on data-mining and AI techniques

Logged-in members can download the Insight here


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The evolving global IP landscape

In June 2017, members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met in Berlin to discuss how the European IP landscape is evolving. In November, the group met at the headquarters of Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) in Rome to continue this discussion, with a focus on protecting trade secrets in the US, China and Italy.

In this Insight you can read about:

  •  The latest updates to the EU directive on trade secrets treat reverse engineering and whistle-blowers
  •       How China may just have broadened its definition of a ’trade secret’ by doing away with the requirement for it to have ‘practical utility’
  •      How America is trying to create a uniform definition of a trade secret with the signing into law of the Defend Trade Secrets Act
  •      How the new Act treats whistle-blowers
  •      A new ‘patent killing’ instrument available under US law, which currently offers patent challengers about two chances in three to invalidate a patent
  •      The enormous challenge presented by product liability law in the US – and what you can do about it
  •     The ‘poisoned chalice’ of working as a judge’s expert in the Italian IP system, in which the role offers great power, demands great responsibility – and isn’t paid very well
  •      The challenge of balancing openness and Ip protection in a public research organisation  which is increasingly encouraged to partner with industry 

Members can download the EIRMA Insight here.


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Reducing Industry's Impact on the Planet

Businesses have to grow to survive, and growth usually means consuming more energy and materials. Give the world’s limited resources, and the impact of energy consumption on climate change, how can companies grow their businesses sustainably?

EIRMA members at Unilever R&D Vlaardingen, The Netherlands, for a workshop on sustainability in business. In this EIRMA Insight you can read:

  •  How the United Nations, through its UNIDAO agency, is working to increase sustainability among the SMEs that make up the vast majority of the world's businesses
  •       How Europe’s work on developing the advanced materials vital to clean energy and e-mobility strategies is being under-exploited here, and what is being done to sustain this industry, which is so important to sustainability
  •      The importance of creating a common language for sustainability, to increase credibility and improve benchmarking,
  •      How Solvay is integrating sustainability into its portfolio management strategy, and the tools they have developed to help them do it
  •      How Unilever is using its global reach to try to shift consumer behaviour towards more sustainable options - and how hard it is to make that work

Members can download the EIRMA Insight here.


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EIRMA Insights 2017

2016 was a year of astonishing political change. In 2017, the world settled down to the hard work of adapting to the new normal. 

Industry faced its own challenges, as pressure to increase returns drove calls for mature businesses to innovate more quickly

The EIRMA community responded by gathering groups of research, development and innovation specialists to share their most up-to-date, practical responses to issues such as accelerating innovation, digitalisation, big data and artificial inteligence, the changing global IP landscape, climate change and sustainability, and more

Their accumulated wisdom is reflected in the EIRMA Insights presented here. 

You can review EIRMA's 2017 programme here

And look ahead to 2018 soon here. 


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Extracting the Value from Innovation

The purpose of innovation is to extract value from an idea, such as a new technology or a new combination of existing capabilities – and this is widely understood. But how do you extract the most value from an innovation? This is much less well understood.

Fortunately there’s a methodology for exploring innovation options in order to discover the approach which will deliver the most value, and this process was outlined in a value innovation workshop hosted by Chris Shilling of Phoreon in September.

In this EIRMA Insight you can learn about:

  •  The ten stages of the value innovation process,
  •       How to discover the Most Important Customer in your innovation value chain,
  •      How to develop ‘value curves’, and what you can do with them,
  •     The power of contextual interviews – and a methodology for extracting the most insights from them,
  •      Defining a value proposition,
  •  Deciding how to deliver it,
  •       And how to check that what you want to deliver still matters to your Most Important Customer.
The technique is explained with reference to Chris’ experience in helping a bio-sensing start-up discover how to get the most value from its new technology. You can read the EIRMA Insight here.

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The evolving European IP landscape

The European IP landscape is  evolving rapidly at the moment, with the introduction of several measures that may streamline the process of protecting IP created in Europe, and one which presents a considerable challenge. Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met in Berlin earlier this year to hear speakers from Hogan Lovells, Bird&Bird, WIPO, and Ernst&Young, discuss:

  •  The European trade secret directive
  •       The unitary patent and its related unitary patent court
  •      The patent prosecution highway and the patent cooperation treaty
  •     The General Data Protection Regulation 
Find out more how each of these instruments affect the protection of European IP in our EIRMA Insight, available here.

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Accelerating Innovation

Many companies feel under pressure to develop an innovation strategy to develop new products and services. Companies that already have an innovation strategy are being pressed to find ways to innovate more quickly. In response, EIRMA members met in Prague in June to discuss accelerating innovation, in companies as diverse as medical diagnostics start-up QuantuMDx, LEGO Group and GE, among others.

In this EIRMA Insight you can find out:

  •  How QuantuMDx is rapidly evolving its innovation approach as the company grows
  •       How LEGO Group is fusing agile techniques championed in software development with traditional StageGate strategies
  •      How host company ComAp is making room for more innovation as it matures
  •     Techniques for accelerating new product development, from Innovation Family
  •      A strategy for accelerating disruptive innovation, from Innovation Family
  •  Details of the way in which GE has retooled its innovation approach, and it supporting processes, to move more quickly
  •       The use of lean strategies in innovation, from Arthur D Little
To read the EIRMA Insight on Accelerating Innovation, click here.

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Digitalisation: Friend or foe? 

How will European industry, and especially its research and development (R&D) function, be affected by the rapid shift of so many products and processes into the digital realm? EIRMA members met in Dublin in May 2017 to discuss these issues at the organisation’s annual conference.

This EIRMA Insight reflects the presentations and discussions at the meeting. In it you can read about:

  •  Why one futurist thinks the pace of change in our lives will never again be as slow as it is now
  •       framework for approaching digitalisation, developed by Arthur D Little
  •      How the European Commission is trying to accelerate the uptake of digitalisation strategies
  •     Examples of digitalisation in action, at DuPont, Rolls-Royce, GE and Royal DSM
  •      Open Innovation 2.0, an update of open innovation strategies for this more dynamic era of change
  •  How the Responsible Innovation agenda is beginning to get traction
  •       And how to nominate the next CTO of the Year
The Insight includes an Executive Summary and a list of Action Points, things you start doing right now to begin your digitalisation journey.

Members can download the insight here.

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From weak signals to big data analysis

How can knowledge managers help users navigate the tsunami of digital data that is now available online to find the information that matters most to them?

Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management met at the FrieslandCampina Innovation Center in Wageningen, the Netherlands, to discuss the topic. Three key themes emerged from the meeting: the role of knowledge management (KM) in the organisation; the tools and strategies that are currently in use; and the cultural change necessary to speed up the sharing of information in large organisations.

In this EIRMA Insight you can read about:

  •  The five pillars of an effective technology intelligence operation within an innovation ecosystem, according to global consultancy Arthur D Little
  •       How technology intelligence activities are spreading into the wider business, and how knowledge managers can support this shift
  •      The role of technology scouting in technology intelligence, and some of the key tools that Siemens is trying out to accelerate the process
  •     How to exploit advanced patent analysis in technology intelligence
  •      Early work at Philips Research to use cognitive computing strategies to mine published research for new insights
  •  Strategies for using a centralised knowledge repository to improve sharing and the alignment of R&D practices
  •       The use of artificial intelligence at Nestle to help people find the right people to talk to in the business
  •       And an exploration of the cultural issues involved in moving from shielding to sharing knowledge


Members can download the Insight here.

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Hacking the R&D organisation for a volatile World

The world is becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, presenting us with a wide range of social, political and ethical dilemmas. In R&D, the tension between the demand for disruptive innovations that change a company’s fortunes overnight and the long-term investment necessary to enable such innovations has never been greater.

EIRMA members met at Procter&Gamble’s InQbet innovation hub in Brussels for a hands-on hackathon focused on re-engineering the R&D function for this  increasingly challenging world.

In this EIRMA Insight you can read about:

  •  The trade-offs that some organisations are making between adaptability and scalability
  •       The power of modularity, in documents, processes and even organisations
  •      How Procter&Gamble, GE, and Solvay are re-engineering their organisations to face these challenges
  •     And what happened when EIRMA members set out to design the perfect R&D organisation for today  

Members can download the Insight here.

There’s also a gallery of images from the hackathon here.

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What Hollywood can teach us about managing research, development and innovation 

Movies used to be made by studios that did it all, from discovering stars and developing scripts through to distributing the finished product. That all changed in the 1960s to a much more fluid system in which a core team assembles an evolving group of specialists to work together to make and sell a movie. 

EIRMA members met at this year’s Representatives' Round Table in Lisbon to discuss the lessons that can be learnt from this approach by the R&D community, as it faces more pressure to deliver better results faster.

In this EIRMA Insight you can find out:

  •  Why moving to a Hollywood model means more than just doing more outsourcing
  •       The shifts in skills and attitudes necessary to make a success of applying this new approach
  •      What to think about when breaking down the work on hand into components that can be handled by third parties
  •     The HR implications - how will you pay the superstar R&D consultants that will emerge as the Hollywood model gets established, and how will the rest of the R&D ecosystem sustain itself and its skills when work becomes casualised
  •  Real-life experiences from organisations that are already experimenting with this approach
  •  What happens when the research team outsources the management 

There’s also an update on EIRMA’s work on Responsible Innovation, an increasingly important topic as the European Commission starts setting the ground rules for participation in its successor to H2020.

Members can download the Insight here.

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The role of Fellows and  Experts in knowledge management and value creation 

Companies, especially those for which technology is their key enabler, need experts to tell them how to use it to best advantage, how it is evolving, and what to invest in next. Some companies even create separate career paths, often culminating in the role of Fellow, that enable their experts to progress their careers and status without having to take on line-management roles. Everyone knows these people are vital to their employers, but what do they actually do - and do they really add value?

A group of the world’s most senior industrial technologists gathered at the facilities of Rolls-Royce in Derby, England, earlier this year to discuss this topic, with contributions from Fellows and Experts at Airbus, ArcelorMIttal, IBM, Michelin, Nestlé, Philips, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, and TomTom

In this EIRMA Insight you can find out about:

  •  Why IBM calls its most senior technologists ’wild ducks’ - and how it expects them to behave
  •       What expectations the director of research and technology at Rolls-Royce has of his company’s large body of Fellows
  •      How Michelin is managing the recent introduction of a Fellows programme
  •     How ArcelorMittal uses its Fellows and experts to share knowledge
  •  The relationship between Siemens’ technology roadmaps and its most senior Experts
  •  How Nestlé’s Fellows and Experts operate within a large and complex global R&D team
  •       The role Fellows play at Airbus in maximising aircraft safety
  •      The expectations of, and opportunities for Fellows at Philips Research
  •  as well as insights into one technologist’s pathway to Fellowship at Rolls-Royce

This EIRMA Insight is accompanied by a comparison table of the role definitions at each of the companies, available as both an XLS spreadsheet and a PDF.

You can download the Insights here.

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The IP challenges of Industry 4.0 and open industry platforms 

The emergence of Industry 4.0 strategies and the open platforms they enable represents a major challenge to established companies, just as the rise of consumer Internet access did for telecoms and media companies in the last decade. The fear is that fast-moving Internet companies will insert themselves between buyers and sellers in industry as they have in consumer markets, completely reshaping established value chains.

Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met at EDF’s new research labs in Saclay, Paris, last month to discuss the role of, and potential challenges, to intellectual property rights in the age of Industry 4.0. Speakers from EDF, Bosch and GE discussed the insights they are gaining from early engagement with the Industrial Internet, and their visions of the future. 

In this EIRMA Insight you can find out about:

  •  How EDF is engaging with disruptive technologies that could change its business radically
  •       EDF’s hub strategy for accelerating innovation
  •      GE’s efforts to build an open platform on which it and third parties can build a new generation of operational optimisation strategies
  •   Bosch’s experience of applying Industry 4.0 instrumentation, communication and analysis strategies to some of its manufacturing equipment - including a historic treadle-powered lathe
  •     Insights from speakers and attendees about the IP challenges of working in this more open and interconnected way
  •  How much help current law can provide to protect IP in this situation - and how much law is yet to be made

as well as a set of Action Points that you can apply in your roles today. 

Members can download the Insight here

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 EIRMA Insights 2016 

It has been a year of astonishing political change across the globe, which has forcefully reminded us that we can no longer take for granted that today’s status quo will remain in place tomorrow. 

In the face of such a challenge, the membership and secretariat of the European Industrial Research Management Association has continued to do what it does best – gather groups of research, development and innovation specialists to learn directly from each other’s practical experience of dealing with both day to day issues – and the challenge of radical change.

You can review EIRMA’s 2016 programme here, and look ahead to 2017 here.


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The next Generation of Open Innovation  

The concept of open innovation has been around for over a decade now, so how is it working out in practice and what comes next? EIRMA members met at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden to discuss the next generation of open innovation. 

In this EIRMA Insight you can find out: 

  •   What happened when a pharma company opened up one of its key pieces of IP for anyone to use
  •       The key factors for success in collaborations between large and small organisations
  •       How ‘translucent innovation’ strategies can remove some of the drawbacks of open innovation while retaining access to new sources of solutions
  •      The best ways to run competitions and awards to gather insights and solutions from new sources
  •       How Sweden is applying open innovation to its public sector research organisations
  •  Some structured approaches to involving the public in open-innovation strategies

as well as a set of Action Points that you can apply in your roles today to help you take the next step with open innovation. 

Members can download the Insight here

There is also a gallery of pictures here

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The role of IP in enabling new business  

What role does intellectual property play in enabling the development of new business, especially for research organisations that have to develop and sustain specialisms to create their differentiating value? Members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met at IMEC in Leuven to discuss this issue the wider topic of creating successfulll start-ups. In this EIRMA Insight you can find out about: 

  • How IMEC manages its IP in the context of its work doing pre-competitive research for semi-conductor industry
  • IMEC's new approach to spinning off technologies, which keeps it engaged with the technology while avoiding the perils of dilution
  • An alternative approach - the start-up factory
  •  Key characteristics of successful start-ups
  • Key steps to defending your IP in a start-up
  • The value of an ecosystem

The members also used the meeting to share their insights on a number of day to day IP management issues, including: 

  • How to convince researchers of the value of reading patents and related literature
  • How to teach people who are not IP professionals to interpret patents correctly
  • How to make the right trade-offs about outsourcing the drafting and/or prosecution of IP instruments
  • Understanding the costs of using national representatives

EIRMA members can download the EIRMA Insights here

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Extracting Value from Big Data  

Big data is a fashionable innovation theme at the moment - but what is it and how do you make money out of it?

EIRMA members gathered at IBM Research’s Zurich facility to explore the issue, through presentations from IBM Research, Google and Philips Research, and group discussions about the practicalities of implementing value-creating big data strategies.

Download this EIRMA Insight to find out:

  • The difference between unstructured and structured data, and how you can turn one into the other
  •  Why the five Vs are so important to effective big data strategies
  • How cognitive computing can streamline knowledge work
  •  Examples of successes to date, and future possibilities
  •  How you can get started exploring some of these strategies - for nothing

Members can download this EIRMA Insights here

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Getting Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution 

How should the research, development and innovation function respond to the fourth Industrial Revolution through which we are living? EIRMA members met at the Paris headquarters of the OECD, its birthplace, to celebrate 50 years since its foundation and to discuss how the ‘digitalisation of everything’ will affect industry’s innovation landscape.

Download this comprehensive EIRMA Insight, based on presentations from the OECD, TomTom, Huawei and many more, and extensive group discussions, to understand how Europe’s most senior industrial innovators see the future. Among the topics discussed:

  • How to bridge the gap between digital natives and digital tourists
  • The opportunities and threats represented by emerging big data strategies
  • How to shift to frugal innovation strategies, which focus on only doing what matters - to your customers and your business
  • The potential impact of artificial intelligence on the workplace - and your current customers' ability to buy your products and services 
  • Why you need to think more carefully about your responsibilities as an innovator - and how EIRMA can help

Members can download this EIRMA Insights here

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The Role of Communities of Practice in Knowledge Creation  

Most companies need to create, share, apply and maintain knowledge in order to innovate. Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management (KM) met at the Philips Museum and at the High Tech Campus, both in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in April to discuss how communities of practice (CoPs) can help do this.

Speakers from Philips, ArcelorMittal, Carmeuse, Schneider Electric, Nestlé, High Tech Campus, GuruScan and Eindhoven University of Technology offered their experience of developing and sustaining CoPs. A wide-ranging discussion among all participants went on to cover issues such as:

  • Why you should create CoPs
  • The challenge of building engagement
  • Using CoPs to connect diverse engagement
  • CoPs in decision making
  • Evolving mature communities
  • Using CoPs to drive science and technology development
  • Tools for developing and managing communities

Members can download this EIRMA Insights here

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Stimulating disruptive innovation in large organisations  

The pressure to innovate is forcing large companies to find faster, more flexible ways to work, in order to compete with start-ups. Large companies usually have strong cultures and processes, which can hold back change. On the other hand, they can call on intellectual and financial resources that few others can match.

Participants at EIRMA's 2016 Representatives' Round Table discussed this issue, in a series of presentations and workshops that included contributions from AD Little, Airbus Group, new member ASCO Industries, GE Global Research, QuantuMDx, Solvay, and many other participants. This EIRMA Insight synthesises their inputs. Download it now to find out:

  • Why you need a corporate garage
  • How to build a corporate garage in a mid-sized company
  • How to add a 'corporate garage' to a rich existing internal innovation ecosystem
  • The role of corporate venturing
  • An entrepreneur's view of intrapreneurship
  • And the outcome of workshop sessions which covered:
  • - General advice on introducing corporate garages
  • - Creating the right culture
  • - Overcoming the tension between incremental and disruptive innovation
  • - Increasing the level of disruptive innovation in corporations
  • - Approaches to business incubation
  • - and managing people in garage contexts. 

Members can download this EIRMA Insights here

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EIRMA Insights 2015  

Innovation is vital to the health of our businesses, economies, and planet. Without a commitment to develop new products, services and business models, businesses and economies will be unable to retain their positions in increasingly competitive global markets, and societies will lack the tools to tackle challenges such as climate change and ageing populations.

The European Industrial Research Management Association has a special place in the innovation ecosystem. It acts as the key forum in which senior industrial research, development and innovation professionals share their current, practical experience and insights. 

 2015 has been another challenging year for European industry, and so our programme has focused on things that members can do now to provide short-term advantages, as well as discussing topics that are likely to present mid- and long-term challenges.

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Standards and patents - business friend or foe?  

The ICT sector has a long tradition of creating industry standards that use intellectual property from many sources as their foundation. To ensure that the resultant standards are open to all, these ’standards essential patents’ (SEPs) are usually licensed on 'fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory’ (FRAND) terms - an approach that works best when most of the participants have contributed and so the value each is sharing is well balanced.

As ICT plays an increasingly important role in other industries, it is likely that concepts of SEP and FRAND will spread with them into IP negotiations. This EIRMA Insight, based on a meeting of the Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management in Padua in December, explored the opportunities and challenges this represents. Find out:

  • How IP rights are being eroded by a shift in the balance between free trade and IP protection legislation
  • How you can use Games Theory to drive your strategy during IP negotiations
  • How major cases among global companies such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei and ZTE, is shaping the law about SEPs and FRAND 
  • Alternative approaches to managing IP, specially in longterm collaborations

Members can download the full EIRMA Insight here

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Understanding IP in Italy - A beginner's guide  

Italy has a unique approach to protecting and enforcing IP rights, forging its own path in everything from the numbering scheme it uses for IP documents to the way public research organisations exploit the IP they develop. Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met in Padua in December to hear about Italy’s approach, from leading practitioners at organisations including Pirelli, CNR and LyondellBasell

  • How to get an Italian judge to come with you on a raid to gather evidence against a suspected infringer
  • Why it may be difficult to check your ‘freedom to operate’ in Italy
  • Why you might end up with research results, but not IP rights, when you pay an Italian PRO to work for you
  • And more 

Members can download the full EIRMA Insight here. 

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Helping experts have more impact on your business  

How do you make the most of the expertise that your senior R&D people have developed over the years, sometimes decades, that they have been with your company? 

Members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management were hosted at Michelin's Clermont-Ferrand research centre in November 2015 to discuss how to develop the careers of in-house experts and to take the most benefit from their insights and experience

  • What experts and Fellows are really for
  • How to decide whether to create an expert/fellow role
  • What you should expect from experts/Fellows
  • How Rolls-Royce and Nestle run their Fellowship programmes
  • How Michelin approaches training experts/Fellows
  • How you can more directly engage experts and Fellows in serving the business's needs

And more, from additional contributors at DSM Nutritional Products, Philips, IBM Research, and more.

Members can download the full EIRMA Insight here

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Fostering entrepreneurship among young industry professionals and academic researchers  

Industry needs access to talented people to carry out the research and development that underpins its pipeline of new products and services. As competition increases, though, pure intellectual horsepower is not enough. Companies need to hire more people who understand what it means to use science and technology to innovate, to build businesses, and to create positive change within companies, through intrapreneurship, and in markets, through entrepreneurship.

Over the past two years, EIRMA has been involved in the HEKATE project, which set out to find ways to connect industry and academia to increase the understanding of - and enthusiasm for - entrepreneurship and innovation among young scientists and technologists. At the project’s end, participants and stakeholders met at Norway House in Brussels, at the final conference organised by EIRMA, to discuss HEKATE’s outcomes, analyse what has been learnt, and plan how to continue its success.

In this EIRMA Insight, you’ll read about diverse approaches to fostering entrepreneurship among young industry professionals and academic researchers, and the direct and indirect benefits Industry can expect from becoming involved.

Find out how the European Commission is helping to create the context for greater engagement between industry and academia, the tools available to help higher education institutions assess their current and evolving openness to industrial engagement, and some tried and tested models for creating and sustaining it, as well as feedback from young professionals and academics who attended these events. 

Members can download the full EIRMA Insight here

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 From idea to invention - Managing the early phases of IP creation   

How do you create an environment that both accelerates invention and protects the resultant ideas from misuse by competitors? Members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met in Helsinki earlier this year to discuss this topic and share best practice. Presentations from representatives of companies including Ahlstrom, DSM, Kemira, Umicore and Unilever outlined some of the strategies these companies use to protect their emerging ideas

This EIRMA Insight includes details of strategies for rewarding investors, managing crowdsourced idea generation, targeting invention, and the role of IP in setting innovation and business strategy. The Insight also includes a set of Action Points, things you can do today to improve the way you protect your company's best ideas. 

Here are the first four Action Points: 

  • Consider a tiered reward structure for inventions disclosures that depends on the success of the idea, but remember there are different levels of contribution, as well as local legal requirements that need to be respected 
  • If you're going to appeal for ideas, either generally throughout your company or from the public, ensure you have the processes and resources to assess and feed back about them properly
  • Consider inverting the relationship between invention and IP, by working out what (patent) claims you want to be able to make for a new product and process, and then asking staff to find ways to deliver those claims
  • IP considerations can play a major role in shaping business strategy but it takes a lot of rigorous processes and deep experience to be able to argue that a business should take a particular path because of the IP implications of doing so. 

EIRMA members can download the detailed Insight here

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Making Europe the eldorado for Innovation  

Europe is a great place to innovate - it has a home market of more than half a billion people, many of whom have high levels of income and education in global terms. Unfortunately, investments in research, development and innovation is shifting to other economies, with larger populations and faster growth rates. EIRMA's annual conference, held in Luxembourg in April, asked how to reverse this trend and turn Europe into the El Dorado of innovation

 In this EIRMA Insight you can read about:

  • a call for industry to partner with governments to help update governance strategies and improve the management of complex issues
  • prospects for a Third Industrial Revolution, based on breakthroughs in communications, energy and finance
  • Europe's potential  to lead a global shift to a more people-centred approach to innovation
  • how some companies are already thriving in the "circular economy"
  • how Europe needs to change to retain and encourage more research, development and innovation

EIRMA's annual conference took place alongside that of the European Association of Research Technology Organisations (EARTO). In a shared session, EIRMA and EARTO members discussed ways to improve Europe's innovation propects by sharing technical resources and infrastructure more effectively. This Insight covers those discussions, too, including issues such as: 

  • the practicalities of sharing research infrastructure 
  • the role of regional specialisation in a global competitive market
  • the role of shared infrastructure in technology transfer from RTOs to industry
  • facilitating access to R&D infrastructure

EIRMA members can download the detailed Insight here

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Capitalising on Experts' Knowledge and Insights  

Every company needs experts to whom it can bring its most difficult issues. The problem with experts is that their expertise is hard to access - if they're working on one problem then they can't be working on another. In the longer term, they either change jobs or retire, taking their expertise with them.

EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management met in Brussels in March to discuss ways to make experts' knowledge and insights more widely accessible. In this EIRMA Insight you'll read about:

  • how cement company Lafarge has developed its knowledge management strategy to encourage more of its staff to be "sharers" than "takers"
  • Michelin's efforts to capture experts' knowledge in a moire shareable form
  • three useful processes for knowledge capture 
  • *process mapping 
  • *concept mapping 
  • *knowledge engineering and modularisation
  • work being done at Airbus to extract knowledge from existing datasets using artificial intelligence techniques
  • the output of four carousel sessions held at the meeting at which KM SIG members shared their experiences of  
  • * learning during project ramp-up and ramp-down 
  • * capturing knowledge from retirees 
  • * getting new hires up to speed 
  • * dealing with shifting competence requirements - in individuals and in teams.

EIRMA members can download the detailed Insight here

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Responsible Innovation in Action  

What is responsible innovation and what does it mean for industrial R&D? An EIRMA taskforce has been studying this issue for the last two years, motivated in part by a sense that "Responsible Innovation" could be the next "Sustainability" - an issue to which R&D groups will soon have to have a response. At the latest meeting, the taskforce met with representatives from other EIRMA companies and the European Commission to discuss the practical implications of the developing responsible innovation agenda.

In this Insights you can find out about:

  • why flooring maker Tarkett has embraced responsible innovation and how it is changing the way they work,
  • how Solvay has built a process that integrates responsible innovation with its company culture and corporate social responsibility strategy,
  • how the ICT industry could provide a model for those who want to start addressing the issue in a simple way,
  • the Commission's more broadly drawn Responsible Research and Innovation strategy and how it could affect H2020 and beyond.

There are also details of a discussion that crystallised EIRMA's thinking on responsible innovation into five areas to be addressed:

  • the scope of responsible research and innovation
  • how to talk about responsibility when values vary so much
  • how to deal with situations where different stakeholders have different understandings of risk
  • how EIRMA can make the case to its members for the value of responsible innovation
  • concerns about regulation blocking innovation

EIRMA members can download the full Insight here

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Communicating the Value of R&D  

Industrial R&D has a PR problem. After years of pressure to embrace change, go global, boost profits, cut costs, and do more with less, many corporate functions, such as sales or operations, feel over-measured and under-appreciated. For them, R&D seems like a black box into which money pours now but from which results may drip later - if at all.

It's a crude characterisation, but one with a grain of truth. It's hard for R&D to communicate the value of its work to the organisation and the wider world. EIRMA members met in January 2015 to discuss ways to tackle this issue, during the annual Representatives' Round Table in Brussels. 

Here's a few of the Action Points that emerged from the meeting: 

  • Be positive about the past, current and future contribution of R&D - play offence, not defence
  • Ask colleagues to quantify the risks of not doing R&D 
  • Consider creating "shortcuts", such as the GE Germany Innovation Forum, to get closer to customers and in doing so, to promote R&D to an enterprise-level activity 

Links and Downloads: 

EIRMA Insight 2014  

Europe is home to vast research, development and innovation (R, D&I) resources, embedded in organisations as diverse as global multinationals, (semi) public research organisations, universities and small to medium sized enterprises.

Six years on from the financial crisis, all are facing similar pressures:

  • To adapt their cultures and processes to greater competition; 
  • To take advantage of the opportunities of globalisation; 
  • To speed up the rate at which R&D is converted into new products, services and businesses;
  •  To update their skills to face new challenges.

This review looks at some of the learnings that has emerged from EIRMA’s 2014 programme to date, as reflected in a series of EIRMA Insights and videos, short reports that distil each discussion into a narrative explaining the issue, describing how peers are addressing it, and drawing out conclusions and immediate Action Points.

During 2014, a number of themes have emerged from these discussions: the need to improve the current framework conditions for R, D&I in Europe; the need for initiatives to build a better future for European research; techniques to navigate the inherent tensions in the research function; the value of continuing education for R, D&I professionals as the demands upon them evolve: and some intriguing opportunities for the future.

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Managing global IP and tax strategies  

As research and development (R&D) is globalised, companies may find that the needs of worldwide intellectual property (IP) managementstrategies clash with those of finance departments seeking to cut tax liabilities. Members of EIRMA's Special Group in Intellectual Asset Management (SIG II) met in Porto in November 2014 to discuss managing global IP portfolios, and dealing with interactions between IP management and tax-reduction strategies.

Presentations covered issues such as building a more effective licensing strategy at the Fraunhofer institutes, navigating the complexities of global IP strategies from Umicore and Schaeffler, how global IP and tax regimes interact - and how they are changing - by Bird&Bird, and insights into qualifying for High and New Technology Enterprise status in China, from BASF. 

This EIRMA Insight also includes updates on the progress of two SIG working groups, on information security, and on benchmarking corporate IP functions.

The Insight ends with a list of Action Points, things you can do today to better align your IP and tax strategies. Here are the first three: 

  • Learn about the advantages of IP box regimes outside your HQ country - but be aware that these are changing rapidly
  • Think about the way in which licensing schemes and transfer pricing can be used to move revenues around a group company - but be aware many such schemes are under scrutinity and liable to change
  • Recognise the impact of changing international guidelines on IP and transfer pricing on decisions within your company about where R&D is managed, conducted and funded

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Effective Knowledge Management Strategies for Informed Decision Making 

Companies spend a lot of time and money developing, storing and securing knowledge. But static knowledge doesn't do companies much good: to be valuable, knowledge has to flow. EIRMA members met at Nestlé headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of knowledge management (KM), especially in the context of enabling better decision making. 

Presentations from Siemens, Philips Innovation Services, Celevere, Bekaert and Paris VIII University, focused on topics as diverse as: 

  • Internal knowledge-sharing platforms,
  • Global knowledge management practices, 
  • The nature of expertise,
  • The psychology sharing,
  • Social media as a market-research tool,
  • Extracting insights from the struture of knowledge, and
  • Revealing the value of knowledge management.

The Insight contains details of these presentations and the open discussions during the meeting. There is also a list of Action Points, things you can do today to improve access to knowledge in order to enhance corporate decision-making. Here are the first three of eight:

  • If you want people to share more, focus first on what each individual will get out of doing so,
  • If you get people engaged in sharing and the creation of communities of practice, ensure that these communities, real or virtual, are constantly encouraged and supported though active community management.
  • As communities grow, let them tell you how the tools should evolve - focusing on the tools first is likely to be less effective than focusing on user needs.      

Members can download the Insights below.  

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 Teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Students to put their Ideas to work    

Europe needs to do better job of linking its academic base, which creates well-trained students and valuable research to industry, where those skills and insights can be put to use for economic and social benefit.

EIRMA is working with TuTech Innovation, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Manchester Business Schiool (MBS) and Solvay to address this issue, in a project funded by the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC), as part of the Lifelong Learning Programme (call 2013 - Knowledge Alliances).

The HEKATE project (HEKATE for Higher Education and enterprises Knowledge Alliances for the Training of Entrepreneurs) wants to connect postgraduate students with experienced innovation managers so they can understand how industry turns ideas into products and services.

This Insight outlines a discussion about how to achieve this held at a meeting organised by EIRMA and hosted by the European University Association. Read on to find out about: 

  • The Commission's view of how to bridge the divide between academia and industry
  • Industry's view of how to create an entrepreneurial culture
  • Students' concerns about being entrepreneurs
  • and details of nine different strategies through which EIRMA could help

Links and Downloads: 

Big data: what does it mean for creativity?   

Can computers become creative members of your R&D team? In a fascinating webinar held as part of EIRMA Annual Conference, Abdel Labbi, member, IBM Academy of Technology; manager, information analytics, argued that yes, maybe they can. 

This Insight outlines his reasons for saying that. He suggests that recent developments in the analyses of large data sets, coupled with continuing improvments in computational capacity, are putting the age of creative computers within reach. 

The Insights lays out Labbi's argument, shows how the analytic powers that we have now have been applied to complex industrial problems such as positioning the wind turbines, and reports his advice to industrial problems such as the positioning of wind turbines, and reports his advice to industrial R&D professionals who eager to start working on this new boundary between computational analysis and computational creativity. It also tells you why you should always think twice before accepting a drink at an IBM cocktail party... 

The Insight includes a link to a video of the original webinar, for those who want to know more. 

Links and Downloads: 

Creativity in Innovation: Making the most of internal creativity and external inspiration  

The 2014 annual conference discussed nurturing creativity in R&D including: 

  • The national and European context for research and innovation
  • sourcing and sorting ideas
  • the role of openness
  • diversity as a competitive advantage
  • new ways to gather and assess market intelligence
  • insights from psychology
  • the impact of the research environment
  • and the role of business models in shaping innovation thinking

In this EIRMA Quicktake, you can learn:

  • why the number of ideas you have doesn't matter
  • why open innovation won't solve all your problems at a stroke
  • the good and bad sides of increased diversity
  • new ways to think about the personnalities in your teams that can lead to better management
  • new ways to understand the business enviroment
  • the power of place
  • the value of thinking about business models in innovation
  • what Responsible Innovation is and why you should care about it

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Protecting Trade Secrets 

Most innovation starts as a trade secret - an idea that shows promise and yet is too immature to be protectable by more formal intellectual property (IP) tools, such as patents. Keeping an idea secret may protect it for a while: defining it as a ‘trade secret’ may offer protection over the longer term. Unfortunately the world lacks a shared definition of what a ‘trade secret’ is, so the protection it offers and the remedies available when misused or misappropriated vary from country to country.

In this EIRMA Insight you can discover:

  •  The best ways to handle trade secrets in globalised corporations 
  •  some of the key country-specific issues to watch out for  
  •  and hear about progress towards a unified European definition of trade secrets - and a unitary patent 


The Insight is based on presentations and discussions at a meeting of EIRMA’s Special interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management held in Stockholm in May 2014.

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Boosting Private R&D Investment in Europe 

Investment in R&D is now a global decision: companies spend their money where they are likely to see the greatest returns. At the latest of EIRMA's annual meetings with European Commission policymakers at the highest level of DG Research and Innovation, members were able to hear from Robert-Jan Smits, director general, and colleagues how they are shaping framework conditions to ensure that Europe remains a competitive place in which to fund industrial R&D.

In this EIRMA Insight, you will hear from:

  •  Robert-Jan Smits, director general, DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, on how the Horizon 2020 programme is focusiong on bringing research to market 
  •  Roman Arjona, chief economist, DG R&I, on the importance of sustaining R&D in Europe  
  •  Jan van der Biesen, vice president of public R&D programs at Philips Research, on industry's view of investing in R&D in Europe 
  •  Clara de la Torre, director, key enabling technologies, DG R&I, on its strategy for funding six knowledge and capital-intensive technologies that cut across sectors 
  •  Urban Wass, senior vice president, research and innovation policy, Volvo, on the long-term gains from engaginf with European programmes 
  •  Chris Shilling, consultant at NewHow KnowHow, on the challenges facing the pharma industry and how European programmes can help
  •  Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, director of health, DG R&I, on the way in which the Innovative Medicines Initiative (1 and 2) provides a new model for industrial collaboration

There is also a discussion about the tension between achieving shareholder value and stakeholder value in an R&D context. 

Find more about all these topics by downloading the EIRMA Insight here: 

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Improving knowledge sharing and discovery   

Companies spend their R&D budgets, in part, on developing new knowledge, but often find it difficult to access that knowledge. They face two main issues: 

  • Capturing the tacit knowledge that people develop through experience,
  • And structuring the explicit knowledge held in lab, notebooks, research reports, spreadsheets, databases, presentations, etc so that can be found easily. 

In this EIRMA Insight, based on a meeting of EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management, you'll find practical acvice about overcoming these problems from fellow industrial practitioners.

Find out about: 

  • Helping share their knowledge - and what might be stopping them doing so 
  • The processes that leading companies such as Michelin, Nestlé and Tata Steel use to capture and share knowledge
  • The latest software tools to help with search - and why Google may not be the right answer for your business
  • And what it takes to build and sustain a successful community of practice

Find more about all these topics by downloading the EIRMA Insight here: 

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Managing an innovation portfolio  

If your company runs more than one R&D project at a time, it may make sense to manage them as a portfolio rather than as a discrete projects. EIRMA members met in Geneva in March to discuss the benefits of a portfolio approach, to share the processes and tools they use, and explore some of the cultural and risk-management issues they face. They also offered advice about some of the factors that contribute to managing an innovation portfolio successfully.

In this Insight you'll discover:

  • The importance of creating and sustaining an innovation culture, and of shaping it to see 'failure' as a necessary part of the innovation process 
  • Insights into the uses of technology scouting, technology roadmapping, process harmonisation, and metrics 
  • Risk management strategies
  • The role of IP management in innovation management - and some insider tips about how to cut costs
  • And a look at some success factors for innovation portfolio management

Find more about all these topics by downloading the EIRMA Insight here: 

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EIRMA's Guide to Business Model Innovation  

Getting started with the most effective form of innovation
According to a 2004 study, developping new products and services is the least effective way to innovate in business. The most effective? Rethinking how you combine your business's skills, resources and relationships to serve customers.
In this EIRMA guide to business model innovation, experienced industrial innovators Corina Kuiper and Bengt Järrehult lead the reader through a practical, effective and enjoyable step by step approach to exploring new business models. You learn: 
  • How to use the "business model canvas" pioneered by Alexander Osterwalder and now widely used in industry 
  • How to get more out of using the canvas by employing additional tools developed by Järrehult as part of his Business Model Plus or Value-Based Canvas 
  • New ways of thinking to enable business model innovation 
  • The secrets of "effectuation", which describes how entrepreneurs think, decide and act 
  • And why, according to Kuiper, developing new businesses is just like having children... 
To watch Bengt Järrehult outlining the business model plus canvas, click here.
To watch Corina Kuiper discussing the realities of implementing a new business model, click here.
EIRMA members can download EIRMA's guide to business model innovation, the original presentations, supporting PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets here.  
Find more about all these topics by downloading the EIRMA Insight here: 

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Exploring the Boundaries of Open Innovation

Open Innovation has been around as a named concept for more than a decade, and as a practice for longer than that. Although its premise - ehancing your innovation process by developping a rich ecosystem of partners - is attractive, it's not something-for-nothing deal. EIRMA representatives met at their annual Round Table in Brussels in January 2014 to discuss the reality of OI, and the limits of its use.

The Insight also includes a number of Action Points, things that you can do today to improve the effectiveness of your open innovation strategies. Here three of them:

  • Small companies take an existential risk when they work with large companies - respect their bravery and be pragmatic about adapting your processes to accomodate them 
  • In taking on wider OI strategies, recognise that cultural change is necessary and embrace it
  • Be wary of driving OI projects and consortia too close to market

The January meeting also covered two more topics: the launch of a Responsible innovation task force, and an introduction to HEKATE, a European Commission project to train tomorrow's entrepreneurs. 

The Responsible Innovation taskforce has been launched as a response to increasing public awareness of innovation, with consequent demands for greater accountability and more legislation to ensure that the work of innovators is benign. The taskforce's aim is to think about what it means to be a responsible innovator, in order to come up with a cogent position and communication tools for engaging with a wide range of stakeholders. 
The HEKATE project, on the other hand, is designed to help industry and academia to work together to encourage technological entrepreneurship. The plan is to form "knowledge alliances" to encourage strucutred, results-driven co-operations between universities and companies, by getting senior industrial R&D managers to be more engaged with universities. 

Find more about all these topics by downloading the EIRMA Insight here: 

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EIRMA Insights 2013 

This review looks at some of the learning that has emerged from EIRMA’s 2013 programme to date, as reflected in a series of EIRMA Insights, short reports that distil each discussion into a narrative explaining the issue, describing how peers are addressing it, and drawing out conclusions and immediate Action Points.

During 2013, a number of themes have emerged from these discussions: the need to demonstrate the relevance of R&D to the business; techniques to improve R&D effectiveness through organisation and tools; the evolving role of Europe; responses to globalisation; and, in these increasingly fluid times, techniques to retain the knowledge that is embodied in your staff.

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Acquiring and Enforcing IP Rights Globally 

Globalisation has reshaped research, development and innovation. Supporting processes such as intellectual property (IP) management have also been adapting to a world in which IP can be generated anywhere and infringed everywhere. EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met in Marseille in December, to discuss how to acquire and protect IP rights in a globalised economy

In this EIRMA Insight you can:

  • Understand the function of IP in today's international markets according to global IP practionners,  
  • How to organise a global IP portfolio,   
  • How to acquire and enforce IP globally, 
  • Read first-hand case studies and advice about protecting IP in France, the Ukraine, China, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Sharja, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and India

The Insight ends with a series of Action Points, things, that you can do today to help enhance and protect your IP wolrdwide. Here are the first three:

  • File for IPR in as many territories as you can afford, focusing particularly on thoses that harbour counterfeiters.
  • Don't forget to register IPR with local Customs authorities - if properly trained and motivated they can directly interfere with the movement of counterfeit goods. 
  • Working out when to file for IPR in particular territories is like managing an R&D portfolio - You're never quite sure which projects will pay off. But remember that rights can be long-lasting, and not filing may leave you unprotected in lucrative emerging markets

Members can download the complete Insight here. 

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The role of R&D in Value Creation 

Customers decide the value they find in your company's products and services. If the R&D function is to create value for your company, and to be seen to create value, it needs to understand its customers better and measure the value it creates for them much more accurately.

That was the basic message of this October's EIRMA Learning Group, chaired by Christof Ebert, managing director of Vector Consulting Services, in Antwerp. 

Ebert outlined steps that the R&D function can take to develop a deep understanding of customers and markets, as a precursor to doing work that meets their needs. The group also discussed ways of measuring the value of R&D which, although challenging, can be done, as presentations from Siemens and Arcelor Mittal demonstrated. 

This Insight summarises the formal learning, presentations and group discussions from the Learning Group meeting, and draws out some actions you can take immediately to start your R&D function on the path to delivering value for customers, being able to measure how much value you are creating, and being seen by the rest of the business as a net value contributor. 

Here’s the first few Action Points. Download the full EIRMA Insight for more:

  • Work out for whom you are delivering value and ensure that you service them all - but don’t forget that the ultimate purpose of a business is to add value for its owners
  • Balance the value you bring to the end customer with the value you bring to the business - too great an emphasis on one will be to the detriment of the other 
  • Change the role and perception of R&D in your environment – away from ideas to value.

Members can download the complete Insight here. 

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Can R&D drive Business Strategy? 

Well-run businesses can draw a line from the work of R&D to the new products and services that serve their customers in the way that their strategy says will be most effective. In many companies, though, R&D has become a service function, expected to solve problems and perhaps deliver occasinal breakthroughs, but largely decoupled from the overall business strategy.
Does it have to be this way? EIRMA members met in Düsseldorf recently to discuss how to more closely couple the work of R&D to business strategy, and ways to take the next step so that R&D drives business strategy.
In this EIRMA Insight you can find: 
  • How to work with senior management to move towards a technology-driven business strategy  
    The importance of marketing the value of R&D within your organisation, and some ways to do it 
    The best ways to structure an organisation to handle both incremental and radical innovation 
  • How the drivers for radical innovation have changed recently, and what that means for business strategy  
  • And more

Members can download the complete Insight here. 

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Effective Global Innovation

EIRMA members met in Warsaw in June for the 2013 Annual Conference, entitled Multilateral innovation: how to benefit effectively from globally distributed innovation. This EIRMA Insight covers proceedings at the conference, which touched upon: the rise of R&D in Poland; innovating for emerging economies; new innovation flows; and building more effective global research, development and innovation networks. Readers can find more details of some of the major conclusions of the meeting in this Insight. They include:
  • How to develop products and services for emerging economies 
    What "frugal" innovation really means for you and for your business
    Why "reverse" innovation is more complex than you think
  • The perils of innovation in large B2C companies
  • New ways to create effective global networks of innovators

Members can download the complete Insight here. 

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Accelerating Time to Market 

Companies are under constant pressure to reduce the time it takes to get new products and services to market. The R&D function, although it has often been given extra freedom because of the exploratory nature of its workn is not immune to this pressure. An EIRMA round table in May this year explored ways in which the R&D function could respond.
  • Find out what basic steps you can take to accelerate R&D
    Discover how senior management can help speed up R&D through their own actions 
    Hear how alignment within your organisation and with customers can reduce wasted time 
  • Learn how to use a common metric for each decision you make about a project to ease decision-making 
  • Understand the power of trust

This EIRMA Insight is based on an EIRMA Round Table held in Brussels on 17 May 2013. Members can download the complete Insight here. 

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Updating the European innovation model for greater growth

EIRMA members met with senior European policy makers in April to hear how the Commission is adapting the framework conditions for innovation in Europe in light of global competition for R&D investment and jobs. This EIRMA Insight outlines the Commission's evolving attitude to R&D and manufacturing, the policy adjustments it is making to reflect this, and industry's response to those changes.

Find Out: 

How the Commission's key priority in supporting R&D has evolved:
  • Discover the criteria it is using to decide which key enabling technologies it should focus
    Learn how new attitudes to the value chain are driving a renaissance in support for manufacturing
    See how industry and the Commission's research priorities are beginning to align
  • Hear industry's feedback on the attractiveness of Europe's innovation framework, and what else needs to be done

This EIRMA Insight is based on the third annual “EU meets EIRMA” meeting, held in Brussels on 24 April 2013. Members can download the complete Insight here

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Shining a light on new ways to unlock hidden information

Innovation needs to be truly novel in order for it to be protectable by legal means. This is becoming increasingly difficult, as the scope of what is considered prior art widens (for example, to include cartoons and YouTube videos), and Asian countries, especially China, patent more in their own languages. Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Groups on Knowledge Management and Intellectual Asset Management held a joint meeting in Munich in April 2013 to discuss ways in which this 'hidden' information can be accessed.
This EIRMA Insight reports the discussion, including extensive input from both the European Patent Office, and R&D professionals who are finding new ways of understanding what is really new in their fields of research and innovation.

Action Points: 

Some of their Insights have been distilled into a series of Action Points, practical things that you can do right now to gain a deeper understanding of real novelty in your industry.
Here are the first three:
  • Consider using crowdsourcing services, alongside traditional resources, to discover prior art from non-traditional sources
    Study the evolution of classification systems, which are being harmonised with more detailed classification schemas that aid search – and which are language-independent
    Crosscheck between English and Asian language presentations of the same information - the Asian information may be more up to date

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Managing complex multi-stakeholder innovation partnerships

Many European companies have made open innovation the heart of their R&D strategy. This has brought benefits and challenges - such as managing the complex web of partners, resources and motivations that underpins an open-innovation strategy.
EIRMA members met in Paris in March to discuss how to manage the complex multistakeholder relationships that underpin an open innovation strategy, in which consumers, PROs and academics become partners with industry, bringing their own outlooks and motivations to the industrial innovation process

Find out:

  •  When to use open innovation?
  • How to protect core competencies?
  • Ways in which issues such as trust, leadership and control are becoming central to open innovation.

Action Points: 

Read our Action Points, things you can do now to improve your performance as an open-innovation partner.
Here are the first three:
  • Recruit stakeholders to your cause, but recognise they have their own agenda
    Find ways to understand your partners’ needs and motivations so you have a better chance of aligning the project with them
    Build trust and treat reputation as an asset

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Structuring Global R&D

Many global R&D organisations are not the result of a carefully considered strategy, but are the result of years of ad hoc development, as companies have grown by acquisition, started service organisations alongside key customers, or responded to pressure to create labs in return for favourable terms from inward-investment authorities. This EIRMA Insight looks at the best ways to structure your global R&D effort, and considers some of the pros and cons of setting up a facility in Brazil or China.

Find out: 

  • How to streamline your existing R&D organisation, to ensure it serves your current needs rather than just reflecting its historical origins
  • What political and social indicators will help you decide whether to invest in Brazil
    Some of the secrets of the Chinese government's innovation-led growth strategy
    Whether national IP acquisition strategies really are a threat to your investment plans 
This EIRMA Insight is based on discussions at the Representatives’ Round Table meeting in Brussels in January 2013 as well as the outcomes of EIRMA Effective Global R&D Focus Group visits to Brazil and India.


 EIRMA’s Insights in 2012

Advice, experience and insights from leading R&D practitioners gathered at EIRMA meetings in 2012.
The European Industrial Research Management Association (EIRMA) was formed to enable senior R&D practitioners to share their knowledge and expertise openly, in a spirit of mutual support.
That founding principle was much in evidence during EIRMA’s meetings in 2012, at which members discussed key issues in current R&D management.
Their discussions have been reflected in a series of EIRMA Insights, short reports that distil each discussion into a narrative explaining the issue, reporting how colleagues are addressing it, and drawing out some conclusions and immediate Action Points.
2012’s meetings, which included, among others, the Representatives’ Round Table, the Annual Conference, four Special Interest Groups, a Learning Group, ‘EU Meets EIRMA’ and three general Round Tables, were each closely tailored to a specific theme: Collaboration, Management, the Personnel Angle, Intellectual Property and New Challenges.

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Using IP to share, as well as shield, knowledge

As R&D becomes more collaborative, the role of intellectual property is evolving from being primarily a tool for controlling the use of knowledge into a tool that can also be used to promote the sharing of that knowledge, through licensing schemes to make money and in more open ways to address societal issues such as neglected diseases. Working in this more flexible way takes a new set of skills that many IP managers will have to develop if they are going to succeed in a world of sharing, as well as shielding, of knowledge.

Find out:

  • How changes to US patent law are changing the landscape for shielding and sharing 
    What it takes to start licensing internal IP to third parties
    How companies can use licensing to create a virtuous circle of support for R&D - and how long it takes to do so 
    How societal problems can be tackled using confidential IP by sharing it through third parties
    About better ways to resolve IP disputes than going to court

Action Points: 

Here are the first three:
  • Start educating your colleagues to think of IP as much as a controlled way to share knowledge as to effectively shield it from abuse
    Ensure that you have top management backing for any efforts to license technology out of your company
    Consider non-traditional forms of sharing as an opportunity to do the right thing, and as a way of exploring new business models and territories
This EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners at a meeting of EIRMA's Special Interest Group (SIG-II) on Intellectual Asset Management  with participants from organisations including EADS, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Renault, Umicore and WIPO.

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Knowledge management and human behaviour in a digital world

Successful knowledge management relies on a mutually supportive combination of systems and behaviour. As knowledge is digitised, and R&D personnel are encouraged to work more collaboratively, both systems and user behaviour are evolving in dramatic ways to ensure that knowledge continues to be shared effectively. It's the knowledge manager's job to lead and facilitate this change.

Find out:

  • How to choose the right tools for online collaboration
    The six steps necessary to ensure that introducing a new sharing technology lead to more effective knowledge sharing 
    How to build online virtual teams that can be as effective as teams that sit together
    Which are the key issues that can undermine efforts to improv knowledge sharing

Action Points: 

Here are the first three:
  • Recognise that enhanced knowledge sharing means a balance of the right systems and the right behaviours
    Invest in behaviour change as well as new technology
    Expect and encourage more collaborative leadership styles
This EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners at a meeting of EIRMA's Special Interest Group (SIG-III) on Knowledge Management, held in Brussels in November 2012, with participants from organisations including Addept Solutions, Areva, Tata Steel, Unilever and Volvo.

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Preparing HR for the future of R&D

Research and development is changing, but what about the human resources function that supports R&D by finding, recruiting and developing its practitioners? In this EIRMA Insight, we look at how HR practice is having to adapt to changing R&D practices.

Find out:

  • How to attract, motivate and retain the best talent
    How to make a distributed workforce more effective
    Why both diversity and inclusiveness are necessary to build an effective global workforce
    The leadership challenges of future R&D organisations

Action Points: 

Here are the first three:
  • Recognise that the changing context for R&D means hiring new skills
    Try to ensure that your company’s value and vision mean that you can engage with potential new recruits with “heart, brain and guts
    Use diversity to broaden your team’s outlook, and ensure that the team is inclusive enough to hear everyone’s insights
This EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners at a Round Table meeting , with participants from companies including AkzoNobel, Johnson & Johnson, Procter and Gamble, Shell, and Unilever.

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Applying Lean Principles to R&D

Lean management techniques have been in use for decades, most famously at Toyota’s car factories in Japan. With the continuing pressure on research and development to be more productive, an increasing number of companies are trying to apply lean techniques to their R&D functions. The question is, can principles developed for production lines be applied to the much less deterministic work of R&D? And isn’t the introduction of a ‘lean’ strategy just management code for cutbacks?
EIRMA's 2012 Learning Group on lean development and management met to discuss the reality of lean principles: that. properly applied, they can help an R&D organisation concentrate its efforts on things that matter to its customers.

Find out

  • the five basic principles of a lean strategy
    the importance of culture change in applying them
    why just buying lean tools will not create a lean culture
    the difference  between effectiveness and efficiency
    why lessening workloads might improve efficiency
as well as hearing from fellow practitioners' about their experiences of applying lean principles.

Links and Downloads

Managing IP Risk in Industrial Collaboration
As the research frontier widens, it makes sense to work with partners to develop new technologies. This makes the effective management of intellectual property increasingly important so that partners can protect the IP that they bring to collaborations, be clear about what happens to any IP generated by them, and have defined ways of treating IP once the project ends.
EIRMA's Special Interest Group on intellectual asset management formed a working group to think through these issues and come up with a set of general guidelines on protecting IP in managing IP risk in industrial collaboration.

Find out:

  • what to do to protect your IP before you start a collaboration
    how to manage and protect your IP during a collaborative project
    why it is important to define how IP is handled after a project has ended - before you get there
    what to do about third party infringements
This EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners who are members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group II on intellectual asset management, chaired by Beatrice Bianchini-Burlot Group manager innovation projects, patents, EDF & Giandomenico Testi Head of group strategic IP, ABB.

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Building effective collaborations with start-ups

Truly disruptive new technologies and processes tend to emerge from small companies, according to academic studies of innovation, so large companies that want to move on to a new growth path will have to find ways of working with them. EIRMA's Special Interest Group on intellectual asset management met in June to consider the best ways of bridging the gulf between large and small, old and new, and to think about the intellectual property implications of such deals.

Actions Points

Here are the first three things that you can do right now to organise for more effective R&D.
  • Discover tried-and tested strategies for working with start-ups
    Hear what small companies are doing to make themselves attractive potential partners
    Understand the role that corporate venturing can play in accessing new sources of innovation
    ... read more in the EIRMA Insight attached
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Building dialogues to enable innovation

Companies used to create products and if they offered the right features and benefits at the right price, people bought them. These days, successful innovation means recruiting a broad constituency of stakeholders to your cause and then traversing a complex web of relationships in order to develop products and services to fulfil a much wider set of criteria than just features, benefits and price.
EIRMA members gathered for their annual conference in Istanbul to discuss how to develop and sustain.


  • Learn about the drivers for this more complex form of innovation, from future cities to metal recycling
  • Understand the motivations of key stakeholders in the innovation process, and how align your work with these motivations
  • Hear about the The Responsible Research, Development and Innovation Agenda, and how it can be used to structure stakeholder dialogues
  • Find out why storytelling is becoming so important to today's innovators
  • Learn how Turkey and Brazil are developing their innovation infrastructures

Links and Downloads 


Enabling Public/Private Partnerships in Europe

 There’s no doubt that Europe needs more innovation if it is going to continue to offer the quality of life that many Europeans enjoy now and want to preserve for future generations.


  • Can the Commission, or any other body, make Europe a more innovative place by dictat? Obviously not and the Commission knows it.
  • Can the Commission, by learning from its past efforts and from global best practice, make Europe a much more attractive place for companies to work with academia and other public actors on innovative projects? Yes.
  • Will it be enough to slow the shift of investment and attention away from Europe towards developing economies? Only time will tell.

 Links and Downloads 


Using Business Processes to Access Technology

The advent of open innovation has taught us that the ability to access new technologies is at least as important as the ability to develop them. With open innovation a given, many companies are looking to business processes such as venturing, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and alliances to strengthen their ability to access technology.

Actions Points

Here are the first three things that you can do right now to organise for more effective R&D.
  • Consider corporate venturing, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures as new tools in the innovation toolbox that must be applied in the right context at the right time.
  • Use corporate venturing to scan for technologies and experiment in new sectors at low risk - but remember that you may have to look at a lot of companies to find the investable opportunities.
  • Use alliances and joint ventures to increase scale or access complimentary skills - but remember these deals only last as long as both parties benefit.
  • ... read more in the EIRMA Insight attached

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Finding your Way in the Cloud

Information is the fuel of the 21st century global economy. Those who can capture and share it most effectively are likely to be best placed to benefit from its transformative power.
For industrial knowledge managers, this is a dilemma: for a long time they have been charged with controlling the flow of information and shielding it from misuse. Now they are asked to help share information much more freely, with internal users and external partners, through devices ranging from servers in the ‘cloud’ to employees’ smartphones, while still protecting its integrity. Members of EIRMA’s special interest group on knowledge management (SIG-III) met in Paris in March 2012 to discuss this challenge and the role that cloud computing may play in meeting it.

Action Points

Here are the first three things that you can do right now to organise for more effective R&D.
  • Recognise that the cloud can offer two key benefits: a better infrastructure for sharing information, and an easier way to access domain expertise
  • Recognise that the ultimate protection for your information is trust
  • Generation Y has different attitudes to sharing information and to the way that they want to work
  • ... read more in the EIRMA Insight attached

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Taking the Measure of R&D

Scientists like numbers. Businesses like numbers. Put the two together, for example when a business tries to value the work of its R&D function, and you have a marriage made in heaven, right? Wrong. The problem is that R&D is all about exploring uncertainty, so it is hard to know what measures to apply in a business context. Do you use measures of scientific success, such as the number of papers published; measures of technical success, such as the number of patents granted; or measures of business success, such as the additional revenue generated due to a research project?

Action points

Here are the first three things that you can do right now to organise for more effective R&D:
  • There is no silver bullet. What you do in one company won't necessarily work in another.
  • Consider the organisation as an ecosystem and take care of the selective pressure that KPIs exert.
  • KPIs should evolve as a project progresses: loose at the beginning of the innovation process, much tighter as you move towards market.
  • ... read more in the EIRMA Insight attached
This EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners who are members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management, chaired by John Oten, Tata Steel.

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Accessing the Power of People in Innovation

Insights from Special Interest Group "Human (F)Actors in Innovation"
This EIRMA Insight discusses how companies can improve their capacity to innovate by developing a better understanding of human motivations and behaviour.
  • Understand the way that the changing demands of industrial innovation are challenging individuals and companies
  • Discover a structured process for getting the most from your people
  • Access practical tools for understanding current mindsets, readying your organisation for transformation, and mastering creativity 
  • Learn about new behaviours and roles that can unlock the innovation potential of your workforce
  • Find out about the Human Factors Diamond
Follow up our Action Points, things that you can do right now to organise for more effective R&D. Here are the first three: there are more in the full document, linked below.

Action Points

  • Harness the reality of human emotions such as power, passion and pride
  • Assess the human element in your organisation: have values become dogma; have commitments become shackles; and have current processes become immoveable routines? Are the ‘frames’ through which you see the world limiting your vision
  • Consider formally creating new roles such as innovation project managers, creativity facilitators and champions: individuals in your organisation are probably migrating into these roles anyway.
This EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners who are members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group V on Human (F)actors in Innovation, chaired by Phil Gamlen, Senior Fellow in Executive Education at Manchester Business School.

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Organising for more Effective R&D

Can you organise your way to a more productive R&D function, or should you be considering other measures to improve R&D?
This EIRMA Insight discusses how companies can change the structure of their organisations and their underlying strategies to make R&D more effective.
  • Discover better ways to make R&D more effective than organisational change
  • Find out how the R&D function can thrive by taking on work outside its traditional scope
  • Read what one practitioner believes should be the new role for R&D line managers
  • Understand the best ways to evolve the R&D function as companies globalise
  • Learn about the role of corporate venturing in enabling more effective R&D
Follow up our Action Points, things that you can do right now to organise for more effective R&D. Here are the first three: there are more in the full document, linked below.

Action Points

  • Teach research managers to focus on enabling a problem-solving culture
  • Look beyond the organisation chart for sources of greater research productivity
  • Use transparency in the environment to improve knowledge sharing and the quality of decision making
This EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners at the Representatives' Round Table held in St Paul de Vence, France, in January 2012, and chaired by Léopold Demiddeleer, EIRMA President.

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Fairness in Intellectual Property Negotiations

Greater cooperation in R&D means that research managers will have to spend more time negotiating collaboration agreements. One way to make this easier is to ensure that everyone involved feels they are getting a fair share of the rewards of any IP being licensed. Fairness is difficult, though, as is revealed in a discussion about offering equivalent rewards to inventors throughout a global organisation.
This practical guide discusses ways of ensuring that all parties feel fairly treated in licensing deals and some of the tools and techniques available to start the kind of open conversations that lead to mutual satisfaction and a faster pace of innovation.
This EIRMA insight also includes an update on progress towards a European patent.

Action Points

  • Brush up your negotiating skills if you want to license a lot more IP in or out
  • Recognise and accept that people's understanding of 'fairness' depends upon their motivations
  • If you are concerned about the evolution of the European patent system, now is the time to make your voice heard through your national organisations or by direct lobbying

Links and Downloads


The Evolving Role of Middle Managers in Innovation

Current management practices emphasise control, discipline and efficiency, yet to thrive in the 21st century, organisations must be adaptable, innovative, inspiring and socially accountable. This practical guide looks at the ways middle management can adapt to, and even lead, the change to more responsive organisations. It discusses new approaches to innovation, and outlines the skills, insights and behaviours that middle managers will need in these new organisational structures.

Action Points

  • Companies need to be clear of the role they want for Innovation in their organisations
  • If you want to create a distributed innovation culture, consider using middle managers to lead that change and set their objectives accordingly
  • Consider separating efficiency management, innovation management and creativity management

Links and Downloads


Governing Social Networking in R&D

How should R&D managers react to social-networking tools, which offer a great new way to connect people within and beyond their organisations, but also enable information to flow outside the usual channels and hierarchy? This practical guide looks at the benefits and challenges of social networking, offers advice about making effective use of social networking in the corporate environment, and discusses the cultural changes that may follow its uptake.

Action Points

  • Get people talking - worry about what they are saying later on
  • Keep a sense of perspective about the need for control - your staff are already communicating in uncontrolled ways on the phone or over coffee
  • Work out how to enable 'ephemeral meritocracies' and 'agile tribes' 

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