A new commons sprouts for green innovation
By Kelly Lauber
Some of the world’s best inventions were built upon existing ideas. Take the Internet for example. What began as three computers has expanded into a global system of networks spawning some of the most innovative companies of the last two decades. This swift progress was made possible by a mutual exchange of ideas in a common space. What if this idea of shared resources expanded into other areas of the marketplace? Imagine big companies voluntarily sharing their patents with Oregon colleges and universities or small entrepreneurs in order to encourage sustainable innovation. That’s the idea behind GreenXchange (GX) — a new marketplace where companies can share intellectual property for the benefit of the common good.
With its roots in Oregon, GX began as a partnership between Nike and Creative Commons and has expanded to include eight additional leading organizations including Yahoo!, Best Buy, IDEO, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, nGenera, Outdoor Industry Association, salesforce.com and 2degrees. These 10 founding partners share a deep commitment to the power of open innovation, a concept that promotes collaboration on shared challenges. This new approach to business allows companies to build upon external ideas and patents to advance their own technologies and products, as well as share internal ideas and patents with other companies to facilitate sustainable innovation. By sharing ideas and resources, companies can reduce costs and wasteful duplication of efforts, while helping drive innovation across industries.
Don Tapscott, chairman of nGenera Insight and co-creator of GX along with Nike’s Sustainable Business and Innovation Lab, describes GX as “the new commons.” He says, “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.”
Kelly Lauber is the director of Nike’s Sustainable Business Lab.
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