Speaker Snapshot: Celine Schillinger, Head Of Quality Innovation & Engagement, Sanofi Pasteur

We look at what shapes an effective open innovation practice


Ahead of her presentation at the Open Innovation Summit in Boston on September 28 & 29, we spoke to Celine Schillinger, Head Of Quality Innovation & Engagement, Sanofi Pasteur. 

Portrayed in Forbes as ‘driving some of the most award-winning and buzz-worthy employee initiatives at Sanofi Pasteur’, Celine directs Innovation and Engagement for Global Quality at Sanofi Pasteur. A leader in collaborative projects for business and organizational transformation, Celine has earned many awards for her innovative engagement initiatives in the pharma world: Gold Quill Award (2016), Most Impactful Emerging Initiative (2015), Best Use of Social Media for Healthcare (2014), French Businesswoman of the year (2013). A TEDx speaker, Celine is passionate about people-centric innovation to modernize the business environment and increase performance.

What are the main advantages of open innovation?

Open innovation bets on diversity and serendipity. The more diverse the input, the more relevant the solutions. We are moving away from a world of expertise silos. More and more we realize everything is connected. The best ideas don’t come from experts alone, they also emerge from the random collision of different perspectives.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that companies face in terms of open innovation implementation?

It is not easy for organizations to adapt to open innovation. Their operating model is built on schemes that worked well in the 20th Century (intellectual property, in-house experts, control of communications and many others) but these are increasingly becoming obsolete. Very often, organizations today lack the competencies to transform their operating model. They don’t even really want to because it’s a challenge to move away from a model that has served you well for decades or more.

How does open innovation affect R&D labs and departments?

I work in industrial quality. We’re a bit far away from R&D, nevertheless, open innovation is a reality for us too. In many places, quality believes in trickling down ideas elaborated by experts or leadership. Field innovation is encouraged of course, through idea boxes, quality circles... But today, we need something more radical than this. In my session at the Open Innovation Summit, I will speak about a massive open innovation & engagement experiment, an activist-based movement we’ve implemented and that is delivering amazing results so far. We’re tapping into a much broader pool of knowledge than before. I think this is interesting for all functions in the enterprise, not just R&D or manufacturing.

How big are the competitive risks of sharing too much with external organizations/individuals?

There are multiple elements to consider. Of course, you want to protect assets and ensure the business benefits of innovation. That’s what organizations, their legal depts, and others are focused on today. It’s useful, but it’s not enough. Longer term objectives, ethics, stakeholder engagement and greater good are key responsibilities of organizations too. I believe we can achieve more with trust, through open and collaborative approaches, rather than with control, through closed and proprietary ways.

What can the audience expect from your upcoming presentation at the Open Innovation Summit?

Ideas and inspiration, I hope! I’m also looking forward to new connections and perspectives.

You can hear from Celine and other industry leaders at the Open Innovation Summit, taking place in Boston this September 28th&29th.


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