Garwood Innovation Fellows Explore Fresh Ideas

At home in South Korea, Gunso Kim is secretary general of the World eGovernment Organization of Cities and Local Governments, an international group pursuing sustainable urban development.

This year, he’s added the role of Garwood Innovation Fellow to his resume, commuting to Berkeley, where he worked with three Berkeley MBA candidates during the spring semester. Their project: to investigate how a ride-sharing app like Uber might function in Seoul.

Kim (pictured) is one of five Innovation Fellows appointed by the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, a Berkeley-Haas institute that focuses on corporate innovation. The Garwood Innovation Fellow/Distinguished Executive-In-Residence Program reflects the open innovation idea that organizations should look externally, as well as internally, to optimize innovation.

“By inviting external professionals into our process of academic inquiry, we’re demonstrating the value of looking outside traditional models of education,” says Henry Chesbrough, PhD 97, the faculty director of the Garwood Center, who coined the term open innovation in his first book on the topic. “We’re marrying theory and reality to discover true innovation.”

Kim believes that an Uber-like startup will be a challenge to sell in older Asian cities, which support a traditional taxi driver economy. But he says he’s excited to soon introduce the idea to Seoul’s mayor and present their proposal.

“This has been such a valuable learning experience, so fruitful to my own business and career development,” he says. “The past three months have really changed me.”

The five Fellows selected from an international pool of applicants, including Kim, are Dr. Mohi Ahmed, senior director of the Open Innovation program at Fujitsu; Todd Schofield, managing director of SC Studios, for Standard Chartered Bank; Ram Shanmugan, founder and CEO of Gemini Systems; and Philipp Skogstad, senior director of products and innovation at SAP Labs.

The Garwood Center paired Berkeley MBA students with the Fellows, who mentored one to three students at a time. By the end of spring term, each team had provided a deliverable that Chesbrough will be able to use in the classroom: a case study, video, research paper, or other finding.

In this way, Haas students benefit by supporting their academic curriculum with real-world experience. The participating fellows had access to current innovation and management theory, exposure to Berkeley research, and were introduced to the Bay Area start-up culture.

SAP’s Skogstad worked with two MBA students on a research paper exploring how innovation occurs within large companies. The results will be shared within both SAP Labs and Intel Corp. “I’ve really enjoyed exercising a mental muscle that I don’t usually get to use in my daily work,” Skogstad says. “The academic experience allows the opportunity for more abstract thinking, digging two or three levels deeper.”

He said he also appreciated making connections with future business leaders and raising awareness of his own company.

By Kirsten Mickelwait