January 26, 2010

Organizations Call for Greater Open Innovation to Advance Sustainability

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND (January 27, 2010) - Today, 10 leading organizations announced the launch of the GreenXchange (GX), a Web-based marketplace where companies can collaborate and share intellectual property (IP) which can lead to new sustainability business models and innovation.

Announced at a CEO breakfast at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the organizations called on other corporations to join them in committing to opening up their IP to fast-track the development of innovative solutions to sustainability challenges.

“Nike is today committing to placing more than 400 of our patents on GX for research, demonstrating our belief that the best way to stimulate sustainable innovation is through open innovation,” said Mark Parker, NIKE, Inc. president and CEO. “Our hope is this will unleash new innovation to help solve current obstacles to sustainability issues.”

One example of IP that could have cross-industry benefits is Nike’s Environmentally Preferred Rubber. Used in Nike footwear the rubber contains 96 percent fewer toxins than the original formulation. By licensing the technology on GX it could be used in other company’s footwear, or it could hypothetically be used by Mountain Equipment Co-op for bicycle inner tubes. In this way Mountain Equipment Co-op could bring a greener product to market more quickly and cheaply than it could on its own.

“There is so much duplication of effort and wasted resources when it comes to sustainability,” said John Wilbanks, VP for Science at Creative Commons, the organization responsible for creating a platform to make the sharing of IP simple, faster and more cost-effective.

“We need to make it easier for individuals, companies, academia, and researchers to collaborate and share best practices in order to create and adopt technologies that have the potential to solve global sustainability challenges,” Wilbanks said.

The 10 founding partners of GX share a commitment to the power of open innovation and collaborative networks to fuel sustainable innovation by making their patented technologies available for research and licensing. “Today Best Buy will also commit to licensing patents and related information on GX to support sustainable innovation,” said Kal Patel, Best Buy EVP of Emerging Business.

Don Tapscott, co-author of “Wikinomics” and chairman of nGenera Insight, is a visionary thinker who inspired and helped incubate GX in conjunction with Nike’s Sustainable Business and Innovation Lab.  Tapscott said, “Increasingly it makes good business sense for companies to share some of their intellectual property. The GreenXchange is the new commons and by applying open innovation to sustainability it will contribute not just to the heath and well being of our planet but also to the cost control and competitiveness of its member companies.”

nGenera Corporation will be facilitating the GX innovation process by providing the technology that will support “private rooms”, where patent holders and patent seekers can discuss prior usage, patent fees, patent restrictions, and other confidential details.

GX was built by a team of developers on salesforce.com's cloud computing platform, enabling the collaborative innovation at the heart of the GX mission. “The founding members share a vision for bringing about positive change through better collaboration,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. “The business of changing the world is something today's leading companies need to take an active role in, and we are proud to be a part of that effort.”

“Yahoo! is encouraged by the GreenXchange’s commitment to accelerate the learning curve for energy efficiency, sustainable technology, and sustainable business practices, through open innovation,” said David Dibble, EVP of service engineering, and operations, Yahoo! Inc.  “The GreenXChange fosters cross-industry collaboration to increase the adoption of sustainable best practices, in a manner that’s good for the planet and good for our individual businesses.”

The benefit of placing intellectual property on GX is that it gives the IP owners the ability to choose the licensing approach they feel comfortable with – from research and attribution recognition to non-competitive use and simple fee structures.

By making private intellectual property visible and usable, the aim is to accelerate the development of green innovation. The launch of GX is the first step in a journey towards more sustainable innovation, and the more companies that post their IP the faster the journey. More information can be found at http://greenxchange.force.com/.