Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Philips Tears Down Eindhoven R&D Fence

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Philips Tears Down Eindhoven R&D Fence

Article excerpt

Dutch electronics giant Royal Philips Electronics is open for new ideas. So open, in fact, that the company has torn down the fence around its corporate R&D campus in Eindhoven, Netherlands, to welcome anyone with novel ideas to set up shop, share ideas and drive innovation.

Open access to researchers--Philips' own and others--is a key component of the company's "open innovation" strategy. The consumer electronics manufacturer hatched the strategy several years ago after realizing its traditional model of closed in-house innovation was blocking clever ideas from entering the company from clever people outside. Since then, Philips has been vigorously looking inside and outside its own labs for the next revolutionary idea by collaborating closely with innovators in organizations with complementary interests.

"We are creative enough--that's not the issue," said Theun Bailer, chief operations officer (COO) and general manager of Philips Research. "It's much more complex. We need all kinds of competencies in various areas. Today, more than ever before, we need to work with groups in those domains where we need additional expertise."

High Tech Campus

Perhaps the most visible proof of Philips' commitment to open innovation is the High Tech Campus located on its corporate research site in Eindhoven, as well as its smaller Innovation Campus in Shanghai, China. The aim of these campuses and possibly new ones at Philips' other R&D sites is to create an environment that fosters interaction, networking and knowledge sharing, and ultimately to encourage participating research organizations, manufacturers and startups to jointly develop groundbreaking technologies.

"The idea is to build an innovation ecosystem," said Bailer. "In the right environment, people with good ideas will find each other and cooperate."

Established in 1999, the High Tech Campus consists of some 30 buildings, with more than 100,000 square meters of office space and 50,000 square meters of lab space alongside Philips corporate R&D facilities. At the heart of the campus is the Strip, where conference rooms, restaurants and other facilities are available to researchers, business development managers and other campus members to meet and share ideas and experiences.

In addition, the campus includes 8,000 square meters of clean-room facilities for microelectronics development. The clean rooms, among the largest in the world, are part of the Microsystems Plaza (MiPlaza) section of the campus, which offers a range of advanced equipment. The facilities, used by nearly two-thirds of all the companies and research organizations located on the campus, are also crucial to Philips for its internal strategic innovation programs focused on materials and devices for molecular medicine.

Pre-Competitive Research

The campus has already attracted some high-profile research institutes, such as the Dutch state-funded institute for applied scientific research TNO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek), and Belgium's IMEC (Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre). Both research organizations have deep expertise in the fields of microsystems development and design. In 2005, they joined forces to launch the Hoist Centre with support from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the government of Flanders. The center is named after Gilles Hoist, the first director of Philips research, and also counts the Dutch company as a key partner.

Key factors in the launch of the Hoist Centre on the High Tech Campus were access to the advanced facilities--particularly the clean rooms--and Philips researchers, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other research organizations and companies and share the results. The center, like many other organizations on the campus, is structured to pursue pre-competitive research programs that give participating companies non-exclusive rights to the research findings. …

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