Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Building Great Innovation Spaces: John Nottingham: As Co-President of Nottingham Spirk, John Nottingham Helps Clients Create Invention That Matters

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Building Great Innovation Spaces: John Nottingham: As Co-President of Nottingham Spirk, John Nottingham Helps Clients Create Invention That Matters

Article excerpt

I have had only one job for my entire professional career. John Spirk and I graduated from the Industrial Design Department of the Cleveland Institute of Art at the same time. We both had Fortune 500 job offers, but we turned them down and started an independent design and innovation company, literally in the garage.

We put a high emphasis on two things: creating strong intellectual property and what we call vertical innovation-managing the full spectrum of innovation. We start with a customer, we go through industrial design and branding, through engineering feasibility and prototyping, on to the finished product design, the development of structural packaging, graphics, sourcing, merchandising, and commercialization.

We want to develop invention that matters. We have nearly 1,000 patents, and every one of them is commercialized. Since we built our patent process into our vertical innovation approach, by the time we get a notice of allowance, we are able to ask ourselves and our client partners whether the patent is worth filing. If the answer is no, it gets abandoned. So the ones that we actually pay the issue fee for are ones that are going to be commercialized.

A key to what we do is to start with what customers will pay for. This is something that many efforts don't get right: they generate exciting innovation, but they create something that's beyond what the customer is willing to pay for. From the very beginning, we focus on end-user price, and then we work backwards to get a factory cost. That seems to be unique, and it prevents a major failure point for innovation.

We think that the space you work in is very important to great innovation. It has so many implications. We were inspired in developing our facility by the space at Pixar. It is designed for interaction. In the movie and animation business, you have writers, directors, voice actors, marketing, and all the other things that make movies successful. …

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