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Open Innovation Future Salon: An Interactive Event

August 27, 2010

This month the SF Bay Area had a really fun Future Salon: Open Innovation and the Future of Organizations on Wed 11 August 6pm to 9pm at SAP Labs in Palo Alto. BAFS leaders Mark Finnern, Alvis Brigis, and myself worked with the speaker to make it as interactive as possible.

Cesar Castro (see his bio below), the founder and CEO of DiscoveryCast, a new collaborative ideation and innovation platform, spoke during the first half. He gave us a fascinating survey of recent trends in open innovation. One of several new things I learned about was FailCon. A conference that reviews spectacular recent failures, mostly in entrepreneurship, and what we can learn from them. An awesome innovation of Bay Area culture. Failcon 2010 is 25 October.  You might want to put that one on your calendar if you are in the area.

And U.S. salon leaders, you might consider contacting Cesar to talk at one of your salons as well, if you think your group would be interested in getting into this topic.

Cesar posted his slides to Slideshare afterward. Slideshare is a great platform I recommend to all our salon leaders. Here they are:

Mark also introduced SAP’s newly developed ideation platform: Idea Place, which we used to collect results of an Ideation Challenge during the second half of the salon. The group of 40 or so attendees broke out into about 8 different groups for about a half hour, and worked on expressing concise ideas for the following question:

Ideation Challenge: You are elected to the PCAST (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Tech) advisory board. You have access to up to $500 million in Federal Funding and the ability to propose new investments, legislation, executive orders, or other actions. What is the most important thing you can advise the federal government to do or try to stimulate U.S. innovation, economic productivity or jobs in nanotech, biotech, or infotech (the technology “golden triangle”) within the next three years (Obama’s re-election horizon)?

Thirty days after the salon, we will be posting our top suggestions placed on Idea Place to the Open PCAST website, a new platform for collecting citizen feedback on federal strategy and policy in science and tech.

This salon was a great experiment, and it taught us something in how to facilitate these kind of talk + small group salons. Having a small group activity, with a minimum of 30 minutes (probably 45-60 is better), that also involves output to an online platform (wiki, idea collection system, etc.) makes for a fun, creative and personalized event. I hope all of us do more of them.

More on our speaker: Cesar Castro is Founder and CEO of DiscoveryCast, a company that has developed an online collaborative brainstorming platform. He founded DiscoveryCast based on his experience in innovation, crowdsourcing, and corporate social networking. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Business, where he lectures in the area of innovation and changing the corporate culture to embrace new innovation models.

He is a former Research Director at the Institute For The Future (IFTF) where he led the Signtific Project, the Institute’s study of the future of science and technology. Before joining IFTF, Cesar served as Vice President of Business Development at InnoCentive from 2001 – 2006, one of the leading open innovation platforms. As VP Business Development, he was responsible for recruiting innovative companies from around the world to join and post their R&D challenges on the InnoCentive platform. He worked with organizations in the life sciences, defense, manufacturing, food, and chemical sectors. He also worked at the Industrial Research Institute, Shell Chemical Company, and MBA Polymers (a Bay Area clean-tech company). Cesar has conducted projects on the future of science and technology, open innovation, crowdsourcing strategies for corporations, and network-centric innovation. He has written forecasts and given speeches on open innovation in heath care, the future of science and technology, trends in global health, and using networks (and crowdsourcing) to enhance innovation practices.

He holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Loyola College in Maryland and an M.S. in Macromolecular Science from Case Western Reserve University. He can be reached via email at or via his Open Innovation blog.

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