IBM has launched a major initiative that will radically change its R&D processes. It is actively forming relationships with governments, universities, and companies globally to capture new ideas and new research programs. This piqued my interest since, in my experience, it’s difficult for most companies (see my earlier blog entry) to capture and identify new product ideas internally; how will IBM go about doing this with disconnected partners such as governments? For example, IBM, as discussed in this BusinessWeek article, has formed a significant relationship with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). KAUST will welcome its inaugural class of 350 graduate students to the shores of the Red Sea, in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia in September 2009.
Here’s my question: given the cultural, geographic and process differences between IBM and a Saudi-based university, will IBM ever realize a return on investment here? Your comments are welcome. A Radical Rethink of R&D – BusinessWeek.