How virtual collaborations and mobile capital may make innovation hubs a thing of the past
This oped was published in Knowledge@Wharton on 20 November, 2014
On October 29, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the New Brunswick, N.J.-based pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer goods giant, announced the launch of its Asia Pacific Innovation Center. Located in Shanghai with satellites in Singapore, Australia and Japan, this unit extends the J&J innovation network beyond its original chain of facilities in London, California and Boston. While laudable, J&J should think more innovatively about how it might source innovation. Some of the more interesting consumer and digital plays continue to come from unexpected places. In today’s age, it is time to start thinking about virtual networks rather than centers that require personnel and capital-intensive investments. Instead of a chain of pearls, a more appropriate metaphor might be a net of diamonds — with links in Africa, Asia and the Nordics, underpinned by a big data center that leverages customer data and the web.