P&G outsources innovation to find new product ideas

Procter & Gamble is throwing open its doors to UK design consultancies in its biggest ever search for new product ideas.

Procter & Gamble is throwing open its doors to UK design consultancies in its biggest ever search for new product ideas.

In a major step forward for the design industry, innovation entrepreneurs have been promised they won’t risk losing their intellectual property rights if they decide to give P&G access to their ideas.

The development programme, called Open Innovation Challenge, is a pilot collaboration between the National Endowment For Science, Technology and the Arts, British Design Innovation, Oakland Innovation and P&G. If it is successful, more large companies will pledge their interest.

Participants will be invited to submit proposals for products which fit P&G’s criteria and have the potential to build businesses worth over $100m (£50m). To protect their intellectual property, the ideas won’t be seen by P&G, but will be reviewed by Nesta, BDI and Oakland Innovation.

Ten of the most promising proposals will be selected and entrants given access to feedback, advice and up to £25 000 so their ideas can be developed to a stage where they demonstrate commercial viability.

Up to five of the strongest applicants will then have the chance to present their finalised ideas to P&G. The fmcg giant will have 90 days in which to decide whether to invest in the idea and sign appropriate contracts, otherwise the creator will be free to take their proposition to other brands, or investors. As is customary in such cases, the innovator will retain its IP in either instance.

‘Intellectual property is currently holding back corporate open innovation,’ says Nesta development manager David Simoes-Brown. ‘There is an issue of trust between the Davids and the Goliaths of the corporate community and we are trying to level the playing field.’

The ‘Goliaths’ of industry – in this case P&G – increasingly recognise the need for new ideas. For example, P&G has pledged to source 50 per cent of its new product development from outside its own labs as part of its Connect & Develop programme.

Mike Addison, section head at P&G, says, ‘P&G realises that it doesn’t have a monopoly on good ideas, and is always looking to connect with innovators and companies around the world.’

Designers interested in the scheme will have the opportunity to attend P&G briefings in Glasgow (25 September) and London (18 September). These will outline the sectors where the company is seeking innovation and inviting participants to submit proposals.

Latest articles