The event was valuable not just for what was said, but for what was shared. It embodied the true spirit of collaboration, central to the Philips philosophy throughout its century of research and innovation.
The agenda of the meeting could not have been more appropriate for us, as the CTO Forum focused on pivotal changes in company strategy driven by societal transformation and disruptive innovation. All of which are changes that businesses must make in order to stay relevant, or to even survive.
In an environment of perpetual flux, uncertain futures and extraordinary opportunities, corporations are adapting to the digitization of society and to addressing the planet’s most important issues – ageing populations, increased urbanization, strengthening society, and protecting our most precious natural resources.
The solutions and approaches presented – from companies as diverse as computer chip maker Intel and global life sciences and materials sciences firm DSM, next to Philips – provided valuable lessons in how businesses can change to drive new growth. They weren’t simply presentations, but dialogues between leaders whose entrepreneurial urge to learn is greater than ever.
We discussed how research and development strategies have changed to incorporate increased agility in experimenting with smart solutions and approaches. We discussed best practices to improve internal collaborations so that teams no longer work in silos. We spoke of leveraging our depth of knowledge and reputation to exploit new global opportunities. And we debated how digital innovations can be brought to market faster and scaled at speed through the use of big data and analytics.
A recurring theme in all presentations was Open Innovation, which is progressing to a higher level: true ecosystem innovation, often referred to as OI 2.0. Creating solutions for smart cities is a clear example that requires a ‘Quadruple Helix innovation model’ – in which businesses, city municipalities, research institutes and citizens co-create solutions for local issues. A great dinner speech by Rob van Gijzel, the Mayor of Eindhoven, reinforced this vision, and was much appreciated by all present.
So it was appropriate that we showed the Forum’s members some of the key innovation centers at the High Tech Campus, which is a pioneering ecosystem for open innovation and co-creation, where teams pursue problem-focused, rather than just technology-focused innovations.
For instance, LED systems that light the world’s most remote communities, medical devices that allow patients with chronic conditions to lead independent lives, and smartphone-enabled apps that can transform life in urban environments.
Speeding up innovation was also very much a theme of this year’s event – of thought as well as action. But there is an old French saying which loosely translated means: ‘Don’t run so fast – it is better to start early.’ Of course speed and agility, in a complex digital world, has become much more essential to innovation. But it is even more important to anticipate the market’s future direction by widening our perspectives and listening to voices from beyond the confines of our respective businesses. To be aware of how things will be changing, to understand the needs of the consumer and society with foresight and clarity, to create early intellectual property (IP) and product or service concepts - and then to pursue those goals with determination.
Dutch-born Henk van Houten joined Philips Research in 1985, where he investigated quantum transport phenomena in semiconductor nanostructures – work awarded with the Royal Dutch Shell prize.
Follow Henk van on