Universities: partners or competitors for Philips Research?

July 2, 2010


In today’s knowledge economy, breakthrough scientific innovations aren’t achieved by people who sit in silos – they’re achieved by people who harness all the creativity, expertise and inspiration they can get their hands on. At Philips Research, we think this more open way of working is also appropriate for R&D – which is why we’re proud of the hundreds of partnerships we have with universities and research institutes at locations worldwide.

A networked knowledge economy

In the past 10 years, there has been an explosion in the numbers of partnerships formed between corporate R&D functions and academic institutions. “At Philips Research, we have a history of engaging with external partners as a result of our Open Innovation philosophy,” says Research’s Chief Science Officer Emile Aarts. “Nevertheless, our relations with the university sector have become increasingly important in recent years. This is primarily because we’re more directly involved in the creation of market-ready health and well-being solutions for a broad customer base.”

Globally, Research currently has around 100 important partnerships with universities and research institutes, including Cambridge, Stanford, MIT and the Eindhoven University of Technology. Of course, not all partnerships take the same form. Some are simply informal contacts between Research staff and the academic community. Others are relations between individual academics and Research, while a smaller number are larger partnerships between Philips and the universities themselves. “Unlike many companies, we don’t just sub-contract problems to universities for them to solve. We partner up in a much more symmetrical way: it’s very much a networked knowledge environment we’re operating in.”

Helping to make a difference
This way of working has certainly given a boost to the innovative power of Philips Research. For instance, Research is currently partnering with a number of institutes, including the universities of Amsterdam and Keele, on an implant that will help relieve some of the visible symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. “More broadly, our partnerships are enabling us to build the competencies we need to help Philips become the leading company in the health and well-being sector. For instance, they’ve allowed us to co-create deep knowledge in areas such as sleep, preventive health and atmosphere creation – all vitally important areas given current societal trends.” As Aarts explains, there are also benefits for Philips’ partners: “By getting involved with Philips, our university partners can access our application knowledge and see how their theories can be applied in practice.”

Universities: partners or competitors for Philips Research?

Emile Aarts, Chief Science Officer Philips Research

Did you know?

Philips Research has:
  • Developed a model for categorizing its relationships with the academic community – a model that has also been included in the European Responsible Partnering Initiative
  • Its own PhD program – part of the Van der Pol Program – for promising young scientists
  • Around 300 Master’s students and trainees working onsite at any one time