Organisations call for greater open innovation to advance sustainability

Best Buy, Creative Commons, IDEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Nike, nGenera, Outdoor Industry Association, salesforce.com, 2Degrees and Yahoo!

Ten leading organisations today announced the launch of the GreenXchange (GX), a Web-based marketplace designed to 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 organisations 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 brings 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 Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons, the company 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,” Ito 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 available their patented technologies for research and licensing. Best Buy today also committed to licensing patents and related information on GX to support sustainable innovation.

Don Tapscott, co-author of Wikinomics and Chairman of nGenera Insight, is a visionary thinker who inspired and helped incubate GX in conjunction with the 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 believes that the GX “commons” for patent and other IP will yield product and service innovations that will ultimately lead to a smaller footprint, making our planet a better place to live.

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 very encouraged by the GreenXchange’s commitment to solve sustainability in the digital age, using the Internet and open innovation to increase the adoption of sustainable business practices,” said Chris Page, Chief Sustainability Officer. “Businesses are in the unique position to combat climate change and other environmental problems while fostering new business opportunities. Collaborative efforts like GreenXChange can help accelerate this process.”

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

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

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