New Discovery Park research center will focus on open digital innovation efforts

April 1, 2014  

Sabine Brunswicker

Sabine Brunswicker 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A new Discovery Park center affiliated with the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship will focus on equipping future systems designers, managers and leaders with new guidelines and database tools to solve complex problems in areas such as health care, regional development, financial services and smart manufacturing.

The Research Center for Open Digital Innovation at Purdue, led by technology and innovation professor Sabine Brunswicker, will build on the university's strengths in computational systems and modeling, technology, engineering, the sciences and entrepreneurship to advance research and offer research-based interdisciplinary graduate education in innovation.

"The vision of the Research Center for Open Digital Innovation is to be the first scientific interdisciplinary innovation research hub in the area of open digital innovation, delivering scientific research for impacting our world," said Alan Rebar, senior associate vice president for research at Purdue and director of Discovery Park.

"The team of researchers and students led by professor Brunswicker will examine and shape the future of innovation by tackling fundamental scientific research questions in an empirical, action-oriented and socio-economical way, establishing global leadership for Purdue and Discovery Park in the areas of innovation research and education."

Digital technologies are shaping the revolution of innovation, Brunswicker said. Leveraging big data, sentiment analysis, crowdsourcing, open data, living laboratories and real-time experimentation, the Purdue center will focus on how technologies can change how innovations are realized and result in novel outcomes - products, services, process and business models.

The term open innovation, which has been gaining momentum in recent years, builds on a concept from the 1960s when companies expanded their cooperative efforts in the research and development areas, coupling external input with internal ideas for advancing their technology or innovative processes and services.

Where it gets tricky, Brunswicker said, is handling the risks and rewards that are sparked by an open and more transparent sharing of ideas between private companies and external collaborators.

"The central idea behind open innovation is that, in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions and patents from other individuals or companies," she said.

Through Brunswicker's leadership, the new Discovery Park center will work closely with affiliated researchers at Purdue and from across the globe who have established themselves as experts in the area of open and digital innovation:

* Henry Chesbrough, a professor and executive director of the Center for Open Innovation in the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been called the "father of open innovation."

* Ann Majchrzak, professor of data sciences and operations at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

* Wim Vanhaverbeke, professor of innovation management and strategy at Hasselt University in Belgium and the ESADE Business School in Spain.

* Esteve Almirall, professor of information systems management at ESADE.

* Johann Füller, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

"This team of distinguished thought leaders from academia, industry and governmental organizations will helps us shape our research agenda and inspire others to participate in the revolution of innovation," Brunswicker said.

Collaborators on the Purdue campus include Cancer Care Engineering, Center for Predictive Materials and Devices (c-PRIMED),, Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN), Cyber Center, Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS), Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The need for research in this area is high, Brunswicker said, noting the gap that exists in the current academic research landscape such as:

* Lack of evidence and novel theories of emerging innovation and digitally enabled open innovation models.

* Existing innovation initiatives at Purdue are about "practicing" and "teaching" traditional modes such as entrepreneurship.

* Current initiatives in the field of open digital innovation are neither interdisciplinary, socio technical or data-driven.

"Our vision is to be the first scientific interdisciplinary innovation research hub in the area of open digital innovation, studying and shaping the future of innovation by tackling fundamental research questions in an empirical, action-oriented and socio-economical way, and establishing global leadership in innovation research and education," Brunswicker said.

Based on her research, Brunswicker said 78 percent of businesses globally practice open innovation today and that no company that initially embraced open innovation has abandoned the concept to date. In addition, 71 percent of those businesses have increased management support and 82 percent have increased open innovation activity.

Brunswicker, an internationally recognized innovation researcher and thought leader with a particular interest in open innovation and ecosystems, serves as scientific director of the Research Hub for Open Digital Innovation at Purdue and as strategic adviser of open innovation at the Fraunhofer Society, based in Munich, Germany.

She also is a senior research fellow for the Innovation and Knowledge Management Institute (IIK) at the ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

The Burton D. Morgan Center, through its sponsored initiatives and partnerships - including the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Technology Realization Program, Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and business plan competitions - aims to stimulate entrepreneurship at Purdue and serves as a state, regional and national resource.

A primary initiative at the center is the Deliberate Innovation for Faculty, or DIFF program, which was launched in January to provide mentoring for Purdue innovators who have an interest in translating their inventions to the public through commercialization, collaboration or entrepreneurship.

The building also houses the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub that opened in July to provide assistance in areas such as product ideation and market analysis as well as business-plan development, alumni and faculty mentoring, and help in finding funding. 

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, 

Sources: Alan Rebar, 765-496-6625,

Sabine Brunswicker, 765-494-0880,

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