University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


PhD course on the 'smart people who work for someone else'

UCPH Professor Marcel Bogers to deliver a master class on 'Open Innovation' - a way of exploiting shared intelligence. Companies like LEO Pharma in Denmark see potential in the new concept

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else”. This quote was attributed to Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy referring to the fact that if a company solely relies on its own employees, it will never solve the customers’ needs.

The implication, that clients and customers should be doing the innovating, underlies a new PhD course at the University of Copenhagen to be held by newly recruited UCPH Associate Professor Marcel Bogers from the Department of Food and Resource Economics. His course on ‘Open Innovation’ for PhDs in science and business starts in February 2016.

“Students will learn to innovate in things as small as research methodology to something as large scale as how to find that missing inspiration that brings entrepreneurship ideas to fruition. I hope to select participant PhDs from diverse disciplines such as natural sciences, business and economics – thereby creating an atmosphere of curiosity, thought exchange and different cultural perspectives,” he says.

LEGO lets customers do the designing

Innovation is normally associated with patents, intellectual property rights and secrecy. But according to Marcel Bogers, these are things of the past.

LEGO has “developed platforms where the customer (user) can make his/her own design and share it on common platforms.”

“The internet age has had such a positively disruptive influence on the world. We are so interconnected that knowledge is truly power. And innovation has become increasingly open where collaborations arise beyond traditional boundaries to address needs,” Marcel Bogers says.

Every industry has open innovation on some scale, according to Marcel Bogers. In Denmark, for example, “LEGO employs some of the most qualified designers on the planet. But they have developed platforms where the customer (user) can make his/her own design and share it on common platforms. If a particular design receives positive attention- the management listens to the customer and let them have a say in the design of future products.”

LEO Pharma option for external scientists

Leo Pharma is one of Denmarks leading pharma companies. The University Post spoke to Niclas Nilsson – head of Leo Pharma´s Open Innovation platform to get his perspective on the topic.

“Open Innovation is a challenge to implement in pharma because it needs to be a positive disruption in the way the industry works. But its the most promising avenue to stimulate research and development and promote collaborations between promising startups and their established counterparts,” he says.

Niclas Nilsson of LEO Pharma: “The future is going to see strong collaborations between pharma, small- and medium-sized enterprises, academia and the citizens”

“On our platform we offer external scientists the option to test their candidate compounds on our established disease relevant assays of commercial interest to Leo Pharma – where they retain complete access to all data generated and ownership. Disclosing our science and R & D tools openly in this manner has been new and unique to Leo Pharma. We hope to increase the chances of scientific discoveries by collaborating with partners this way.”

Industry is moving

The trend is catching up with other players too, according to Niclas of LEO Pharma.

“The industry is definitely moving towards open innovation but its being implemented cautiously and rightly so. The future is going to see strong collaborations between pharma, small- and medium-sized enterprises, academia and the citizens to work in a patient-centric way.”

Dr. Marcel Bogers’ course at UCPH on Open Innovation will run in February 2016 and provide participants 2 ECTS credits. It will cover themes such as innovation, IPR, markets, business models and patents.

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