Optimizing Innovation – Simon Dewulf of Creax

Simon Dewulf of CreaxWe are happy to bring you some of the key points and insights from Simon Dewulf’s talk at the Optimizing Innovation Conference, which was held October 21-22, 2009 in New York City.

Simon Dewulf, Managing Director of Creax, spoke about how there are 67 million patents in the patent database and that a majority of them are 20+ years old and so they are free to use. And, how the other half are patents that could be applied for free to another purpose.

Simon spoke about an intersection example involving a Kraft need and a Goodyear expertise – cutting of viscous elastic material (cheese versus tires). There is no reason these two companies couldn’t collaborate because they don’t compete.

Amongst other things, Creax has software that helps people visualize connections and search terms from the information in the patent database. Apparently, less than 3% of patents make more money than they cost to file.

“Research is often re-search – the solution is often already existing.”

In addition to companies with problems that are looking for solutions, there are also a lot of materials companies that have developed lots of solutions that are in search of a problem. This can be solved somewhat using the patent database.

Four ways of looking at your search for innovation:

1. Value and function

  • What values do we want?

2. Out of the box in time and space

  • What resources do we have?
  • Utilizes the 9 windows method from TRIZ (surrounding, before/box/after, components)

3. Analogy across domains

  • Where do we look for inspiration?

4. Variation of properties for new or improved functions

  • What do we change, what do we gain?

All customer value requirements can be attributed to four main values:

  • More performance
  • Less harm
  • More convenience (aka interface)
  • Less price (aka cost)

They have simplified the TRIZ methodology down to properties and functions and brought in the patent database.

“Can you connect something that is different to something that is better?”

Finally, here are five questions you should be asking yourselves:

  1. What can you achieve by changing properties?
  2. What other industries should we be following?
  3. Who should we be partnering with?
  4. Who should be licensing to or from?
  5. Why does it take so long to apply in a different domain?
    • If you apply a surface similar to a golf ball to trains, you get 30% less friction.

Optimizing Innovation Conference


Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is the editor of Blogging Innovation and founder of Business Strategy Innovation, a consultancy focusing on innovation and marketing strategy. Braden is also @innovate on Twitter.

Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Design Thinking, Innovation and Transformation Consultant, a popular innovation speaker and workshop leader, and helps companies use Human-Centered Change™ to beat the 70% change failure rate. He is the author of Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.

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