55th R&D 100 Awards & 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference

54th R&D 100 Awards Dinner

The Finalists for the 55th R&D 100 Awards were announced in August. The finalists include a number of the premier research laboratories and known inventive companies from around the globe, along with a number of smaller up-and-coming companies.


The 2017 R&D 100 Awards Finalists

National Lab finalists from the USA include:  Sandia, Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, MIT Lincoln Labs, NASA Langley, NASA Glenn, Brookhaven, Idaho National, Pacific Northwest, Argonne, and Los Alamos.  Taiwan’s ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute), a perennial winner, has multiple finalist products.  If you are not aware of ITRI, give them a look.

Inventive Company finalists include:  Siemens, Hitachi, Boston Scientific, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, PPG, IBM, Tektronix, Tupperware, Illumina, Battelle, Rust-Oleum, GM, General Cable, Southwire, PerkinElmer, and Ametek.

It is not really fair for me to cherry pick from the finalist list, but American Standard jumped out.  They have a finalist product we can all understand, the “ActiClean Self-Cleaning Toilet.”  Buckle-up for that.  Coulson, a Canadian company, has also submitted its new “Coulson Ice Blaster” product which is likely to secure a place in the industrial cleaning market.  It cleans with ice and you just wipe away the water.  As well, there are a host of 3D/rapid prototyping, MEMS, and Micro finalist products.  And, there is a “smart footwear” product for modern cities from a collaborative effort between the National Universities of Taiwan and Taipei.  All in all, it is a mind boggling range of inventions and innovations competing for the 55th R&D 100 Awards.

Three years ago, R&D Magazine switched their approach.  Finalists used to be announced in advance of the awards event.  Now, there is a great deal of suspense as companies don’t know if they won until their name is called at the Awards Dinner.  This year, that will be Friday evening November 17.  The winners will be published by R&D Magazine shortly after the Awards Dinner concludes.


3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference

Also three years ago, R&D Magazine decided that it made sense to produce a conference associated with the Awards Dinner and I became involved.  Last year, my two presentations were rated one and two and resulted in the honor of being asked to help develop the program for the third year.

The 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference will be held Thursday/Friday November 16/17, in advance of the Awards Dinner on Friday evening.  After being at Caesar’s Palace the first year, and then the Gaylord National Convention Center in DC last year, this year’s conference and awards dinner will be at Walt Disney’s Swan Resort in Orlando.

The agenda is packed.  There are 28 speakers  The two keynotes are Jeff James of the Disney Institute and Scott Kirsner of Innovation Leader.  Scott will open-up the conference Thursday morning with a talk on “Perils, Pressures and Productivity: How R&D Needs to Reposition Itself.”  R&D Magazine will also be repeating its “Technology Transfer Forum” panel which has been a big draw the first two years.

My presentation this year will be on “Optimizing R&D Performance Through Metrics.”  Award finalists and conference-only participants are quite attentive to the sessions.  Some of the most capable innovators in the world travel long distances for this event, and they seriously engage.

Goldense Breakthrough Innovation Presentation

Above is a look from last year at a packed room for my presentation on “10 Breakthrough Innovation Techniques.”  The rooms are packed for just about every topic and the Q&A is fairly intense.


The Global R&D Funding Forecast – The Year Ahead

One of the highlights of the conference, which was simply a published report in the years before the conference began, is Tim Studt’s “Global R&D Funding Forecast.”  Tim was the Managing Editor of R&D Magazine for some thirty years until two years ago.  Now, in his not so retired retirement, Tim continues to produce this annual gem.  There is not a better source for “what is being spent where” on R&D.  A long-time colleague, GGI has used Tim’s reports in our executive education classes for years.  It is wonderful to be able to hear Tim present the Global R&D Funding Forecast and to be able to ask questions.  This presentation alone is worth the entire value of the conference.

The 2018 Global Funding Forecast will be presented in draft form at the end of the day on Thursday November 16, right before the conference reception.  The final Forecast will come out in December 2017.  If you are curious, here are the links to the 2017 Global Funding Forecast and the 2016 Global Funding Forecast.  I’ll add that macro changes in global spending and the repositioning of countries and industries becomes clear when one takes reports that are 2-4 years apart and compares the charts such as the bubble chart below (provided here in black and white to motivate you to get the full color report directly from R&D Magazine.)

2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast

The rise of China, the emergence of the Scandinavian countries as global innovation leaders, and the decline of former innovation leaders could all be foreseen by relatively straightforward comparative analysis of these Funding Forecasts.


A Good Use of Time

If your schedule can accommodate it, the 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference would be a good use of time on November 16-17 for anyone involved in innovation and invention.  If you have never been to an R&D 100 Awards Dinner, everyone should attend one these eye-popping ceremonies during their career.  There is nothing like it.




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The Six Departments of Innovation

When this “Six Departments of Innovation” article was posted to the Disruptive Innovation Group on LinkedIn, it created quite a stir.  This is a great group!!  It is actively moderated and many people regularly participate.  Some of the comments will turn your head.


LinkedIn DI Group Comments

I believe (or at least am under the impression) that corporates have by and large knowingly replaced in-house efforts to create new markets with acquisitions under the heading corporate venture capital.”

Oh my, is organic innovation dead?

I’ve seen reports of macroeconomic indicators that DI and innovation generally are down. Number of startups has declined. Little change of dominant incumbents in several sectors.

Oh my, is organic innovation passe?

Decline in patents is understandable given that within the US the environment has generally turned hostile to small inventors, with larger companies seemingly able to infringe with impunity. Furthermore, within the EU there is a drive to enshrine the German code commercial secrecy laws into European wide statue. Thus a commercially secret can be effectively protect and such have a lifespan far in excess that of a patent. With the EU Trade Secrets and Confidential Business Information Directive, EU2016/943, confidentiality agreements and contracts of employment become a more viable method of protecting intellectual property, especially for processes. As such new these new innovations do not make it into the public domain, and superficially innovation declines, but the reality is the innovation is still there but not put into the public domain via the publication of a patent.

Oh my, are some of the historical indicators that measure innovation changing?


Thoughts on DI Group Comments

Well, to my thinking, Organic Innovation has definitely taken several hits.

Yes, Open Innovation is now another source of inventions and innovations.  And, it should remain that way.  OI is a good thing.  But, too much OI results in a degradation of both internal functional competencies and internal core competencies.  Let me use a famous company that we all know as an example.  P&G went “whole hog” into OI around 2005.  An HBR article by the CEO at the time cited that some 50% of all innovations were coming from OI.  Three years later he retired.  Within a few years, P&G was underperforming and he came back as CEO.  Now, a dozen years later, after OI became a/the priority, Trian Group is pulling an activist shareholder move that will play out some time in 2017.  Trian talks about revitalizing an underperforming P&G and improving shareholder returns.  It is hard for me to say what’s real without lots of detailed research.  But, at 50,000 feet, this is unusual for P&G in my lifetime.  I conclude that a 50% reliance on OI is too great.

Yes, DI is down.  Robert Cooper (who is the creator of Stage-Gate®) continues to do great research.  In my article, there is a chart from Dr. Cooper’s research indicating that investment in “new-to” is down 30-43% depending on the category of new-to.  Instead, available monies were allocated to product line additions, extensions, and improvements.

Yes, people are changing the way they manage IP.  That was borne-out in GGI’s 2014 research which indicated that Trade Secrets, Company Proprietary, and the like are getting more attention.  As well, the change the US Patent Laws a couple years back has definitely affected Makers.  And, Unicorns are taking too great a share of available VC monies even though the VC community is now global and more total money is available.  The “little guy” is now at a disadvantage relative to big companies.  But, the premise of this comment is that “registered and/or guarded IP” define both inventions and innovations.  It seems to me that the subject of innovation is much larger than what is registered or guarded.



The truth is that innovation is down, and has been since 2001.  I’ll make three points.

First, recessions cause structural cross-industry pull back of risky items in the pipeline.  When the economy returns to strength, there is up to a five year lag before company pipelines again reflect a “normal percentage” of risky investments.  So, the 2001 recession was over in 2003.  Add five years.  By 2008 pipelines were starting to look normal again.  But, a year later, noting time-to-market is 3-5 years for most new-to products, the market crashed before the new momentum really got going.  Now, after the extended Great Recession, pipelines are just starting to get going again.

Second, there are better measures of innovation than registered and/or guarded IP.  Return-On-Innovation, Return-On-Capital, Return-On-Equity, New Product Sales, New Product Profits, and Market Share Growth will all generally be better indicators.

Third, Wall Street has never really respected nor valued Open Innovation as much as it values Organic Innovation.  As sexy and exciting as OI is, if I were in charge of maximizing shareholder value, I would not throw the Organic Baby out with the bath water.

That’s why I wrote this article. The world is likely entering its first sustained period of economic growth since the Millennium.  This is a great time to take a serious look at the pipeline and perhaps place a few bets on more risky investments than has been the norm for a dozen years.


The Six Departments of Innovation [Machine Design – June 2017] discusses six innovation organizations that exist in most companies, and explores their relative merits to produce results across the range of innovation initiatives.




TITLE:  Measuring Product Development Productivity & Performance

WHEN:  October 3-4, 2017

WHERE:  The Moller Centre, University of Cambridge, UK

MORE INFO:  Brochure




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