The Emergence Of Innovation Centers

We look at how specific areas for innovation are springing up


In March, Vince Cable, who before the last election was Britain’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, opened a new ‘Urban Innovation Centre’ in London.

Initiated by the part-government funded corporation ‘Future Cities’, it looks to accelerate new market initiatives that have the capacity to future-proof urban environments. The center has been built to bring businesses, city leaders and universities together so that they can solve problems and take advantage of autonomy and robotics.

London’s not the only major city to set up a collaboration space. Berlin has a number of co-working labs, which are used to facilitate the innovation process.

The most famous of these is the Social Impact Lab, which was described in the Guardian as ‘a dreamer madhouse where you can work with other crazy people who actually believe you can make money changing the world’. Through the lab’s scholarship programme, a number of companies have worked together to refine their business models so that their current offering is improved.

Johnson and Johnson, the American pharmaceuticals company, has four innovation centers, with the most recent one being unveiled in London in 2013 - its first outside of North America. Part of its innovation strategy is to ‘advance human health through collaboration with the world's leading scientists and entrepreneurs.’ The hub will be used to speed up the development of new healthcare solutions so that they are brought to the market quicker.

Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson and Johnson, states;

‘We are looking forward to collaborating within the UK, home to one of the world's thriving life sciences ecosystems.’

London is home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities and also a high concentration of bio-tech organizations, making it an obvious choice. The city’s innovation infrastructure, like Berlin, is well suited to open innovation and will bring together London’s best pharma talent.

The emergence of these centers, coupled with the increasing amount of open innovation programmes, shows that companies, regardless of their size or market influence, want to collaborate and learn from one another.

This is good news for us. It means that important discoveries will be made faster, which in the case of city development and pharma, could have a direct impact on our lives. Johnson and Johnson’s center, for example, will focus on technologies which aid the recovery of cancer and dementia.

If these centers work, they will give doctors and nurses the equipment they need to carry out their jobs in a more efficient and effective manner, which should stand all of us in good stead moving forward.


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