Gernot J. Abel

Science Manager at Novozymes
Making open innovation and citizen science work in biotechnology

At first sight, Gernot’s employer Novozymes from Denmark looks like a successful but fairly normal biotech company: they’re looking back at a long history, they’re building a campus, they’re really strong in industrial enzymes, microorganisms, and biopolymers, offering 700 biotechnology products in 130 countries.

At second sight, there is more indeed: a strategic approach to open innovation and open source approaches that is far beyond the industry standard, with concepts like collaborative crowd-foresighting and their active involvement in local maker-spaces. These are open citizen innovation labs welcoming everybody to tinker with advanced technology, appropriate and apply it in new ways and making it meaningful to people’s lives in a very concrete way. For Gernot and his company, this is not about creating or securing intellectual property – it is exactly the opposite: they strive to learn and share with everybody, accelerating R&D in a smart and low-cost way. But how does Novozymes funnel open source innovations back from maker-spaces and into the corporation? Or in other words: how to they deal with the ubiquitous “not invented here” syndrome?