Opening the door to innovation

  • What is required to tackle climate change? Some suggest it will take a Manhattan Project style initiative, which is to suggest that immense scale driven by brute force innovation and central planning will solve our problems. However, the Manhattan Project was completed under secrecy and well defined boundaries with no intention of generating commercial potential.
  • On the other hand, climate change is infinitely complex and involves technologies that span the public and private sectors. In this world success is measured in the market and commercialisation determines the winners and the losers. More importantly, the manner in which innovation is achieved has changed with a shift from ‘closed innovation’, such as the Manhattan Project and developments stemming from large corporate labs (e.g. Bell Labs, Xerox) to ‘open innovation’, which accounts for the pace
    and fluidity of information.
  • The rise of information and communication technology, the shortening of product life cycles, the mobility of skilled labour and the availability of venture capital has meant that companies can no longer innovate behind closed doors. Doing so may lead to an inferior product.

Driving the green economy will be green technological innovations. This new approach cannot rely on old models of innovation and therefore, for technical advancements to flourish, government needs to incentivise the private sector to adopt the model of open innovation. This may be achieved through financing, regulation or private/public partnerships, however begs the question, will companies actually work together.

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