Thursday, May 27, 2010

Does OPEN INNOVATION equal outsourcing innovation?

Contracting out a business function; be it IT services or Innovation; to an external provider will qualify as outsourcing. So what’s the big fuss about, why is open innovation being mentioned in all innovation forums?

On the face of it – there isn’t much difference.

While the traditional outsourcing based on Cost saving and  on demand resources; allows one to focus on their core business, it is also true for open innovation. However why open innovation is getting popular has more reasons than what meets the eye.

a) Outsourcing focuses on repeatable tasks, open innovation focuses on one- off task. (One would most probably try to open innovate when the answer is not a phone call away; at Bangalore or Beijing)

b) Outsourcing focuses on the getting job done, open innovation focuses on increasing the probability of getting that complex job done. (There are no guarantees in open innovation, but one can surely reduce the risk of not reaching out to a possible great idea)

c) Outsourcing success is based on identifying the right partner for medium to long term, open innovation success is based on having the right processes in place to leverage the long tail phenomenon. (Here the quantity of solutions does not matter, but the relevancy does and this relevancy may not be possible to be bought  from a predefined source) 

d) Outsourcing helps enterprises improve predictability, Open innovation helps enterprises improve novelty in their offerings. (Predictability is hygiene, consumers now want to be delighted)

e) Outsourcing is based on push, open innovation is based on pull. (Push works better for traditional business function outsourcing, Pull works better for creativity and innovation)

Reasons to go for open innovation could be a subset of reasons to go for a typical business function outsourcing, but the former has lot more underneath it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Seeking a method for attaining extreme cantilever using a coilable material

The Seeker needs to extend horizontally the loose end of a small coil of lightweight stored material without external support -- essentially, achieving a cantilever supported only at one beam end. Material, beam cross-section, and beam structure are on the table -- but your solution must meet strict criteria in terms of size, weight, cost, and coilability.

The seeker envisions that there may be a better engineering or materials solution to our problem than the one we now use. We store a small coil of lightweight material (the coil size can fit in the hand), the loose end of which must extend horizontally from the coil for well over 168 unsupported inches without deflection anywhere along the extended length or at the root of the beam. There is no additional load on the cantilever beam other than the weight of its own material.

All potential solutions must face tight cost constraints. Exotic materials or difficult-to-manufacture options may be non-starters (even if successful solutions) because of costs. Your solution to this cantilever problem will need to be manufactured hundreds of thousands of times, and must cost accordingly.

Some of the constraints applicable
  • Tight cost constraints.
  • Able to extend horizontally 168+ inches without deflection or support except at one beam end. A greater cantilever extension would be even better.
  • Able to store 168+ linear inches of material in a small coil (or in another compact storage form able to be held in one hand) no more than 3-to-5 inches in its largest dimension.
  • Gross weight under 1 pound.
Note: Please make sure that only non-confidential information is submitted as part of your solution. You can submit a summary of your solution, however the solution summary should be elaborate enough to convince seeker that you have a solution.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Seeking to improve thermoplastic (especially polyolefin) performance properties by using additives

Our client is looking to improve the performance properties of polyolefins, polyethylenes, and thermoplastics generally. Additives, ingredients, fillers, modifiers, agents and other methods are all of interest. We are open to new additives that enhance any of a long list of properties, or that can enhance the performance of additives already in use.

Our client's focus is on finding new ingredients, modifiers, or agents that improve the balance of properties of a thermoplastic (in particular, a polyolefin) over what is currently used today. The list of properties of interest includes:

o Lighter weight
o Higher modulus
o Increase tensile strength
o Improve impact resistance
o Improve heat resistance
o Decrease density (while maintaining the same or greater strength)
o Minimize shrinkage
o Improve surface finish, feel, optical appearance, and similar aesthetics
o Improve scratch resistance and surface hardness
o Improve stiffness
o Minimize or eliminate abrasiveness (causes problems during extrusion)

Ideally, your proposed additive would provide new properties in plastics or improvements over anything currently available; or, your additive would maintain current-equivalent properties but at a greatly reduced weight or much lower cost.

Early-stage technologies are acceptable, but it is preferred that you have reduced the technology to practice at least at the lab scale.

  • Safety is important to us. Any new ingredient should not create safety hazards when inhaled during mixing or cause harm during incineration or processing.
  • Your additive must work with an extruder (or possibly a compounder). An additive that is too abrasive -- over 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale -- may be harder than the steel in an extruder. We may make an exception for a true nano-scale additive.
  • No restriction between organic or inorganic additives.
  • We are NOT currently interested in new polymers (unless the polymer is added to polyolefins), new processes, or new machines.
Note: Please make sure that only non-confidential information is submitted as part of your solution. You can submit a summary of your solution, however the solution summary should be elaborate enough to convince seeker that you have a solution.
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