Conference to Explore Mass Customization and Open Innovation

The Haas School's Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation is co-hosting a conference this month to share knowledge about how two major schools of thought on innovation – mass customization and open innovation – can work harmoniously together.

The 2011 World Conference on Mass Customization, Personalization, and Co-Creation (MCPC): Bridging Mass Customization and Open Innovation is expected to bring together 500 business leaders and academics at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront from Nov. 16 to Nov. 19.

"The MCPC 2011 event is an experiment," says conference co-chair Henry Chesbrough, PhD 97, the Garwood Center's executive director. "Can we advance our knowledge of innovation effectively by linking mass customization and personalization with open innovation?

"While developed separately and built on different theoretical and conceptual backgrounds, we believe that mass customization and open innovation are closely linked and can benefit from a broader exchange between both schools of thought," Chesbrough explains.

Mass customization aims to profit from people's differences by enabling the creation of goods and services that best serve individual customers' personal needs with near mass production efficiency. Open innovation refers to the concept that companies should make greater use of external ideas and technologies in their own business, while also allowing unused internal ideas to flow out to others for use in their businesses.

Conference speakers will talk about mass customization in a range of industries and fields, from apparel to food to manufacturing. Companies such as Proctor & Gamble and Ford Motor Co. also will talk about their open innovation practices.

The event is co-hosted by MIT, RWTH Aachen University, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. It is part of the MCPC conference series started in 2001 by Frank Piller of MIT and RWTH Aachen University and Mitchell Tseng of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

For more information on the conference, including registration, visit Faculty receive a 50 percent discount on registration.

Henry Chesbrough, PhD 97, Garwood Center Executive Director