Prof. Henry Chesbrough, PhD 97, Receives Leading Through Innovation Award

Haas School Professor Henry Chesbrough, PhD 97, who has pioneered a new business paradigm called "open innovation," has been selected as the first alumnus to receive the school's new Leading Through Innovation Award.

Chesbrough has been selected to receive the new award in recognition of his pioneering scholarly efforts in open innovation, innovation in the services sector, and the processes of industrial research and development. The new annual award is being established this year to celebrate Haas alumni who have achieved excellence as innovative leaders and embody the principles of the school's Leading Through Innovation strategy, thus serving as exemplars to others in the Berkeley-Haas community.

"Henry Chesbrough has been a leader in developing new theories about innovation and has been especially successful in helping put these new ideas to work — the definition of Leading Through Innovation," says Dean Rich Lyons. "In so doing, he has created stronger links between our school and the business community. His work is also having a positive impact on our society as a whole."

Chesbrough is executive director of the Center for Open Innovation at Haas and author of two books: Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology (2003) and Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape (2006). In his books, Chesbrough argues that companies should use global connectivity to their advantage by seeking external ideas and technologies beyond their own walls while sharing internal ideas they can’t use with other firms.

Chesbrough also founded the Berkeley Innovation Forum – a group of 30 companies in a wide range of industries that meets twice a year to exchange ideas, experiences, and knowledge about innovation management.

Currently Chesbrough is researching his third book, which centers on the services sector. One of his subjects is Spain's quirky El Bulli restaurant, lauded as one of the world's best – and most experimental – restaurants in the world. Its menu relies on the research of an outsider: Herve This, a French chemist who pioneered molecular gastronomy, making possible such creations as slinky-shaped spirals of solidified olive oil, liquid ravioli, and frozen chocolate air.

While Chesbrough began his research with a Silicon Valley focus, he says his theories extend across all sectors, from consumer goods to pharmaceuticals. Although many companies are still unfamiliar or resistant to open innovation, Chesbrough finds particular satisfaction in the fact that more and more of his students are going on to jobs with “open innovation” in the title.

“Students call me and say they are doing exactly what we talked about in class. They are the ones putting it into practice," he says. “Then it comes full circle when I invite them back to talk about it, to keep us current."

In addition to teaching MBA students, Chesbrough in a faculty member in the UC Berkeley Center for Executive Education's Open Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship Program.

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