Archive for the 'IP' Category

Open Innovation – a Solution Provider’s tale

July 22nd, 2008 | Category: IP,Open Innovation,Opinions,Problem solving

A while ago I posted an article about the three leading Open Innovation marketplaces (a.k.a. Ideagoras) but in that post, I didn’t shed much light on what the process felt like from the perspective of a Solution Provider. I’ve now submitted two proposals in answer to RFPs from Nine Sigma and eventually, after quite a bit of initial interest, I have received feedback that neither proposal is suitable for their clients. I’d like to share a bit more about these proposals with you in the hope that my learning experience might be useful if you ever decide to enter the murky and strangely disconnected world of the Solution Provider.

Proposal 1: an automotive transmission lock. I teamed up with an automotive gearbox technology company and we identified a novel transmission lock design which did not seem to be present in the prior art. I prepared a detailed patent document for the transmission lock and I filed the patent with the UK patent office within three days. I filed a patent specifically because of the policy on Nine Sigma around “non-confidential disclosure” of proposals. I prepared the proposal and the outline plan with my contact at the gearbox company and he submitted the proposal to Nine Sigma in early May. In total I put in about 4 days of work and my colleague at the gearbox company did about the same. We thought we had done a good job. Then we waited and we waited and we waited. Eventually, in the second week of July my contact received an email from Nine Sigma saying that the client thought the proposal was good but they didn’t believe that the solution was suitable for them. We didn’t get any more detail on exactly what didn’t work for the client.

Proposal 2: an improved catheter system. I analysed the problem situation using TRIZ and researched the prior art. Based on this work, I identified a conceptual solution which appeared to be novel and I tracked down a company based in Cambridge, UK with the necessary expertise to produce a proof of principle demonstrator. As in the previous proposal, I prepared a detailed patent document for the improved catheter system and filed it on-line with the UK patent office. I prepared a proposal to Nine Sigma and sent it off in early June. This time, I didn’t have to wait so long. I received confirmation from Nine Sigma in the second week of July that, following an initial screening meeting with their client, excitingly, they were interested in my proposal. My excitement soon dissipated, however, as over the next two weeks I received and answered 9 increasingly incomprehensible e-mails asking about various functional aspects of my proposal, questioning if the idea was indeed unique and implying that I hadn’t applied for a patent after all. By the time Nine Sigma said that their client thought the new technology would take too long to develop and so had decided not to proceed, I was actually quite relieved.

So, where has this left me in my burgeoning career as a Solution Provider? Actually, a little more positive than you might have thought. At least I got feedback on my proposals. I’ve spoken to others who have now given up answering RFPs from Nine Sigma because of the lack of feedback. So on my experience, there’s improvement there. In terms of the communication gap which I experienced, now I know what to expect, I’ll be ready for it next time. In fact, I’ve been looking through the list of new RFPs and I’ve already lined up another couple to have a go at. Meanwhile, if I get a good search report on Proposal 2, I think it could well have legs and it may well find its way onto yet2.com.

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