Keith Jeffcoat, Senior Director, Technical Operations, Merz North America
Sector: Engineering & Design
Our brief: Merz, the global pharmaceutical company, asked us to find technical partners to explore improvements to the manufacturing of their leading ultrasound skin treatment devices. The company were interested to use this case to test the notion that open innovation would add significant capabilities to their in-house R&D team – a challenge we were very happy to accept.
What we did: We used our Innovation Radar service to find top ultrasound experts from around the globe and invite them to participate in a 100%Open Crowd with Merz R&D scientists, using our strategic partner Crowdicity’s platform, so we could separate the internal R&D team from the radar invitees, but otherwise give them the exact same crowd experience. We recruited over 20 qualified and experienced people who were willing to advise Merz on manufacturing and design in exchange for a chance to work with the company in the future. Over 3 months we ran two challenges for each ‘team’, the first for incremental improvement and the second for total redesign of a transducers. Our client Keith was also writing his PhD thesis on how open innovation works and was interested in the mindsets that promote collaboration and creativity. So we also profiled his R&D team and the external innovators using our Co-Lab Styles Test.
What happened: Merz tested three new ultrasound manufacturing innovations, one of which addressed their specific technical issue. Also as an unexpected bonus Merz has employed one of the radar community members, on a freelance basis, to work with Keith in his team. Finally, he published his PhD. paper in 2018 and is now Dr Keith.
He was able to demonstrate that open innovation works to a level of statistical significance! Have a look at his paper here. He compared his internal team with the innovation performance of the Innovation Radar contacts. Interestingly, the external innovators proved better at the redesign challenge whereas the R&D team performed better at making incremental improvements. Merz has since seen an incredible 225X return on investment from his project with us.