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Collaboratories

by Patti Anklam

Business Week’s current issue is focused on changes in R&D, by which the future of Innovation.

IBM, which has maintained its R&D spending at a steady rate despite the economic downturn, is now launching a global initiative to work with other companies and countries in what it calls collaboratories: partnerships aimed at generating more product ideas while establishing long-term relationships. Here’s what the article says:

The attraction for IBM is clear. The collaborative strategy snags more research with roughly the same amount of IBM money. Performing research with a variety of partners in many locations also exposes IBM to science challenges and ideas that it might not otherwise encounter.

There it is again: IBM is putting itself at risk of good ideas. It’s just sound business. In one example, IBM has established a nano-technology partnership with a ETH Zurich, a Swiss government funded university. The value to the countries is the potential to launch new industries while its universities can “attract the best faculty and students.”

IBM is literally covering the globe with the collaboratories. Each project meets a complex set of criteria, which I assume has a heavy dose of value network analysis (even if they don’t call it that).

The initiative is not without the issues that confront networks (intellectual property negotations can bring a project to a halt) and economies (why should IBM be focusing outside of the U.S. at a time of great economic need here?). But it is a network vision of amazing reach

Big Blue's Global Lab

How Big Blue is forging cutting-edge partnerships around the world