Innovation Weekly Roundup: 11/04/2016

Weekly Roundup is a McNair Center series compiling and summarizing the week’s most important Entrepreneurship and Innovation news.

Here is what you need to know about innovation this week:


Microsoft Puts Slack in Cross Hairs with New Office Chat App

Nick Wingfield, NY Times
Tech companies are moving in on Slack’s popular team-messaging market as Microsoft joins Facebook in taking on smaller players in this space. Microsoft’s size and distribution power is not enough to enter a new market. Their product must be innovative, not just another app in the Microsoft Office suite. Slack, in response, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times. They sarcastically congratulated Microsoft while also highlighting the innovations Slack has brought to numerous workplaces.

Microsoft’s current Office suite is just not keeping pace with the changing dynamics of the workplace, which require collaborative software. Slack, and other team messengers, enables multi-channel communication to organize discussion without relying on email. It is additionally fully searchable and allows a variety of app integrations. Team-messaging applications increase transparency and decentralize discussion. They are used at a variety of workplaces emphasizing collaboration (including here at the McNair Center).


AIA Patents – Approaching 50% of newly issued patents.

Dennis Crouch, Professor – University of Missouri School of Law

Crouch has created a chart showing the percentage of patents granted under the first-to-file provisions in the 2011 America Invents Act (AIA). The AIA changed the patent application rules from first-to-invent to first-to-file. By the end of 2016, half of all new patents issued would have been filed under first-to-file rules.

Patents filed under the AIA are subject to post grant review (PGR). A third party successfully petitioning that at least one claim is unpatentable can initiate the PGR process. The purpose of PGR is to dispose of bad patents early in their life through the USPTO rather than the legal system. Petitions must be entered within 9 months of a patent being issued and a final decision of validity is made in less than a year.


Innovation Labs: 10 Defining Features

 Dr. Lidia Gryszkiewicz, World Economic Forum
 Dr. Tuukka Toivonen, University College London
 Dr. Ioanna Lykourentzou, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology

Innovation Labs are essential workspaces for collaborative innovation. However, innovation labs’ missions and features are often ill-defined. A simple “I know it when I see it” style definition is not sufficient. Three experts in social innovation have reviewed innovation labs around the world to determine what features are essential. A few key findings include innovation labs needing heterogeneous participants, focus on experimentation and an expectation of breakthrough solutions. Such distinctions can help guide new labs and promote innovation across a variety of industries and social areas.

Additionally, creating a definition for these labs helps distinguish them from other similar models like living lab and coworking spaces. In summary, the writers of this piece define an innovation lab as “a semi-autonomous organization that engages diverse participants—on a long-term basis—in open collaboration for the purpose of creating, elaborating and prototyping radical solutions to pre-identified systemic challenges.”

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