P&G has always been my “pin up” company, as it has pioneered ideation not only internally, but with customers and suppliers in a way that has been transformational for the company. It is therefore especially interesting for me to learn that Procter & Gamble is stepping up efforts to find new ideas – wherever they might originate. The wave of Open Innovation continues to build, but some skeptics feel that it is a bubble. Well, not for P&G.
P&G wants to triple the revenue it earns from working with outside sources, including competitors, universities and entrepreneurs. In five years, P&G wants to earn $3 billion in sales from its partnerships with outside companies and researchers, tripling the impact of a program that began in 2000 to find and adapt new ideas from small firms, inventors and others.
“Connect and Develop has created a culture of open innovation that has already generated sustainable growth, but we know we can do more,” chairman and CEO Bob McDonald said. “We want the best minds in the world to work with us to create big ideas.”
In a company that once took years, even decades, to bring new products to market relying on in-house research, the program has helped P&G quickly get new products on store shelves.
Examples of products found through Connect and Develop include Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which came from technology licensed from German chemical company BASF, and Swiffer Dusters, adapted from a Japanese competitor called Unicharm Corp. P&G negotiated the rights to sell the product outside of Japan.
P&G will continue to look for similar opportunities, but will also step up its work with small- and mid-sized entrepreneurial companies, said Bruce Brown, P&G’s chief technology officer. The company plans to increase its work with universities, research institutions and government laboratories around the world, including “innovation hotspots” like California’s Silicon Valley, Boston, Israel and China, Brown said.
P&G employs dozens of international technology entrepreneurs whose job it is to find new products and technologies. The company already employs a small office in Silicon Valley and has employees working inside venture capital firms researching new businesses that P&G could invest in or even purchase outright.