Much has been written about Xerox PARC, its legendary R&D legacy, and its inability to make money off their groundbreaking innovations. But what many people don't know is that 10 years ago, it launched a new plan to turn research into cash-money. This printed memory/logic circuit is the first fruit of the new plan.
According to Technology Review's David Talbot, Xerox PARC's big change began 10 years ago when CEO Anne Mulcahy realised the research division was in no position to generate revenues alone. So she spin the company off. Realising it wasn't quite in the position to bring a product to market on its own, Xerox spun off.
The buzzword attached to new era was "open innovation"; PARC's researchers would now freely associate with the outside world to hone ideas and work out how to commercialise them. "When PARC spun out in 2002, open, collaborative innovation became, in essence, the business model for PARC," says Lawrence Lee, currently PARC's director of strategy. "But we've only figured out what that means in practice over the last couple of years."
Getting those partnerships, however, wasn't easy. Businesses were gunshy to license a PARC patent or technology, and instead wanted them to present something that was ready for market, or close to it. So PARC looked at a technology it had been developing and found a development partner whose own work lined up with it's own.
...in 2010 PARC formed a "co-innovation engagement" with Thinfilm, which was already making printed memory. The resulting prototype circuit was the first to combine both printed transistors and memory, according to PARC.
As a result, PARC now has deals with over 45 companies who will feature the printed memory/logic in their products. This tech will be used to measure shock impact and pressure in helmets, or to keep tabs on temperature in food packaging. Additionally, companies have come calling on its other technologies, leading to the company generating £38 million in revenue last year. In short, the future is bright for PARC. [Technology Review]