Escaped from the Lab: OOPSLA Workshop Report

OOPSLA 2008 Conference, Nashville
October 20, 2008

In this workshop, the workshop participants explored several interesting questions surrounding the subject of Innovation and how to get new ideas from the laboratory (universities and corporate research labs) into practical uses.

The top questions were:

How do innovations escape?

To have success in the real-world application of an innovation goes beyond the capability of most research organizations. You often need help from the outside.

One conclusion -- technology transfer is a collaborative effort.

Another good observation -- in some cases, successful technology transfer has happened by transferring people (sometimes on a temporary basis):

Values, culture, and climate that contribute to successful innovation?

This was an interesting topic to explore. Some obvious factors have played a role in building an environment for innovation:

How can we attract and retain innovators?

We assembled a list of things that attract good technical people to work for a company:

We listed a few things that repel good technical people:

What should industry do to be a good customer of innovations?

In some companies, a common model for introducing new innovations is to work with a "research partner" -- which might be either a research group in a university or a small startup company.

There is always a give and take between:

Some interesting problems that might cause some "mismatched expectations":

Research that is contracted or outsourced

We discussed some of the models of industry-university collaboration. This collaboration could be done in a couple of ways:

One of the workshop participants, Ethan Hadar from CA Labs, presented one model that is used to manage industry-university collaboration -- in an Agile manner. In this model, there are five main players -- three on the industry side and two on the university side.

One more point was raised in the discussion of this question -- how to move "customer-generated innovations" into a product. We talked about two slightly different models:

Both of these models seem to work OK, but there is definitely a different division of responsibility for the productization work.

How should we measure the impact of innovation?

Measuring the impact is a good idea -- even the only measurements we can make are simplistic.

We considered three sets of measurements:

What other questions do we have?

In the workshop's initial brainstorming session, we came up with a number of other good topics to discuss. Unfortunately, because of the lack of time, we put these questions off until another future workshop:

Questions and issues on innovation for future discussion:

Last modified: October 21, 2008