Is Open Innovation Over?

Just as many of the world’s biggest companies are embracing open innovation, along comes James Todhunter, chief technology officer of software provider Invention Machine, to say it’s becoming yesterday’s idea. Chatting with me between presentations at the Open Innovation Summit on Dec. 4, Todhunter says, “The pendulum is starting to swing back.”

Granted, we all live in a world where information flows almost as easily as air. And granted, no company really has the brainpower and budget to innovate entirely on its own. But Todhunter argues that companies risk hollowing themselves out if they rely too much on ideas and expertise from outsiders. Taken to the extreme, they would end up with no intellectual property of their own, which in turn would leave them with nothing to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Another thing that many people have wrong, Todhunter tells me, is that China is a fast-rising innovation center. China isn’t today and never will be, he says, until its government relaxes control over the corporate sector to really let a thousand flowers bloom.

Todhunter, a software veteran and inventor who joined Invention Machine in 2002, offers this additional prediction: Hot fields for innovation in the near term will be in energy, water, food production.

Is Todhunter on the money?

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