Friday 3 April 2009

'Research circles': new and useful?

Under the heading 'Research circles' tech transfer model speeds IP commercialization', this week's Technology Transfer E-News circular writes that Jonathan A. Murray (general manager, Cross Business Programs, GE Healthcare) is successfully using a new innovation model he calls ‘research circles’. A research circle is
“a group of people who have agreed to collaborate together and agreed to follow a set of rules of how to work together as a society”.
Participants, often with different education and research backgrounds, can share information under an umbrella (non-disclosure agreement) NDA, allowing them to tap into IP and expertise from the best minds in a particular field without regard to typical boundaries. Details can be found in an article on the research circle model of university-industry research cooperation in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics

I hadn't realised that the concept was new, and it's certainly not inventive. The real challenge, though, isn't conjuring up the 'research circle' as a new model but in creating the right atmosphere of trust and respect that will enable it to function successfully, not just when it's achieving positive results but when the collaboration is doing no more than eliminating the negatives.  It will be good to learn how GE Healthcare is doing this, since the company has probably gained a good deal of experience and know-how if it's got the point of going public on the 'research circle' notion.  One further thought: circles of this nature may prove socially, emotionally and politically more comfortable than just looking to buy in or outsource the sort of

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