VIEWPOINT – Piero Formica


Winner of the Innovation Luminary Award 2017
Founder of the International Entrepreneurship Academy Network
Senior Research Fellow at the Innovation Value Institute, Maynooth, Ireland

University, Industry and Governmentmake the Triple Helix turning. At the helm of the Innovation ship there are human beings in flesh and blood. Among the helmsmen, here we want to highlight the figure of Homo Innovatus.
Throughout history, individuals and businesses have clustered into networks. Homo Innovatus is the person who paves the way for a transformative cluster formation. She learns to strike the arrows of doubt, thinking, action and construction. There is not a linear-time sequence that, starting from doubt, leads to the achievement. The uncertainty ofjudgment (doubt), the weight (pensum,participle of the verb pendere, “to weigh”, -as the Romans said with reference to “thinking”) of the subject to be treated, the will to change (action) and its concretization intersect and integrate along a circular path. To a better blending of them all,Homo Innovatus contributes by daring to diverge from her peers as she is aware of the value attributed to personal diversity and culturaldistinctiveness in order to get more creative, more sustainable and fairer performances. In this way, Homo Innovatus models the environment of open innovation, which, in turn, shapes her own personality.
“Walls are in the mind”-this is one ofthe suggestions deployed along the “Path of meditation” in the Island ofSan Giulio on Lake Orta in northern Italy, west of Lake Maggiore. Playing the game of open innovation, we change our mind. As Virgil (The Aeneid, III, 72, quoted by Seneca, Epistulae morales to Lucilius, III, 28) says, source of surprises. Our player has “ …terraeque urbesque recedunt” (“ endless possibilities to exploit, and … leave the cities and the shores unlimited are the feasible reactions ofbehind”). the other players. In the radical uncertainty that surrounds them, each Passion combined with determination Innovatus relies on simple rules of can produce outstanding results. thumb. According to “The First Word toCross the Ocean”, one out of five One can move around in the spaces “historical miniatures” by Stefan Zweig adjacent to one’s own domain. Thus (2016), leveraging the power of behaving, Nicholas Callan (1799-1864),electricity it was his passion together Irish scientist and priest, invented the with the will to succeed in the bold induction coil in 1836. A resultenterprise that allowed Cyrus W Field obtained by combining two adjacent to bring about the laying of submarine ideas: the discovery in 1831 ofcables for telegraphic transmissions electromagnetic induction by physicist between Europe and America. It took and chemist Michael Faraday (1791.eight years, between 1858 and 1866 -1867), and the electromagnet invented and several attempts went wrong -to in 1825 by physicist William Sturgeon achieve the desired result. Field made (1783-1850). a major effort, which resulted in the mobilisation of so many funds as it It may happen that adjacent mental required such an ambitious project. If, spaces give rise to physical spaces that besides the door of finance, there were are sources of unlikely combinations. other gates open in the field of As Christina van Houten (2016) tellsinnovation, perhaps the time would us, the concentration on the Murano have shortened. What is now called island of Venetian glass craftsmen “Open Innovation 2.0” is expected to turned out to be an “inadvertent speed up the journey along the route creation of a colony of highly-skilled from ideation to completion. In its glassmakers”. Socializing in the version 2.0 -the result of advances in ‘neighbourhood’ cultural space coulddigital techno logies and the lead to the onset of ‘a sole mode ofdevelopment of cognitive sciences -thought’ syndrome for loyalty to the open innovation is a paradigm scientific community or the industrialadvocating for disruptions, seeking the district which one belongs to. They unexpected, and providing support for move to wide and the rapid scale-up of successes. ‘white’ (uncontaminated) spaces those who ding into the folds of anti-How does Homo Innovatus move in the discipline. mental space of Open Innovation 2.0?An answer comes from the chess Anti-discipline is a method that breaks game. Her move resembles the down barriers that separate disciplines characteristic movement of the knight and specializations. Its forerunner was as she jumps from one team to the Harvard biologist Edward O another, and thus shifting she is a Wilson (1978), who sees anti.discipline as an “adversary relation that often exists when the fields ofstudy at adjacent levels of organization first begin to interact” and generate creative tensions. With the aim of breaking down barriers that by separating the disciplines prevent the ever-toughest problems to deal with, Joichi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab founded by Nicholas Negroponte, fights to ensure that “more people [can] work in the wide-open white spaces between disciplines .the anti-disciplinary space”.
Broadening the perspective, one can see how much in the economy of ideas the contribution of convergence, defined by Tom Siegfried (2006) “merger fever”,between scientific branches (mathematical,physical and natural sciences), and humanistic branches is both large and growing, and how open innovation, whose richness lies in the cultural diversity ofparticipants, can act as a catalyst for setting a brisker pace to that trend.
Homo Innovatus is an experimenter wellaware that the facts she has news and experience, and the ideas already cultivated reflect the past. On the other hand, dreams and speculations about the future are fantasies that are confronted with reality. Homo Innovatus is so unreasonable to transcend from the boundaries of dogmatic reason and conventional wisdom to challenge with experiments the state of existing things and thus to complete the whole path from fantasy to accomplishment.
On the wake of Benjamin Franklin, Homo Innovatus pursues “useful knowledge” .namely, that which can be applied to some use. It is obtained through conversations that result in collaborative inquiries in the course of experiments that push knowledge from the upstream source down to its point of exploitation.
*email address protected*

v. Houten, C. (2016) Adjacent Innovation -Unlikely Connections That Move Our World, Diginomica, October 5
Siegfried, T. (2006) A Beautiful Mind. John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature, Joseph Henry

Press, Washington, DC. Wilson, E O. (1978) On Human Nature,
Harvard University Press, Harvard Zweig, S. (2016) Genius and Discovery: Five
Historical Miniatures, Pushkin Press, London

Professor Piero Formica started his career as an economist at the OECD Economic Prospects Division in Paris, then moving to academic institutions. He is the Founder of the Internat iona lEntrepreneurship Academy and was Professor of Economics with a special focus on innovation and entrepreneurship at the Jönköping International Business School inSweden.
He is currently a Senior Research Fellow ofthe Innovational Value Institute at the Maynooth University in Ireland where he leads an international research team on experimentation and simulation of high-expectation start-ups.
He is Adjunct Professor of Knowledge Economics, Innovation and Entrepreneurshipat the Faculty of Entrepreneurship, University of Tehran (Iran), and a Guest Professor at the University of Tartu (Estonia) where he held the Marie CurieProfessorship at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
Professor Formica is a Councilor of the World Certificate Institute, a global certifying body that grants credential awards to individuals as well as accredits courses of organizations, and member of the International Advisory Panel of Amrita Center for Responsible Innovations and Sustainable Enterprises (ARISE), Amrita University, India, the Entovation Knowledge Management Network, and IKED (the International Organisation for Knowledge Economy and Enterprise Development). He has received awards and honors that include a Honorary Professor bestowed by the University of Mar del Plata (Argentina), a Guest Professor at King Saud University (Saudi Arabia) and at Curtin University ofTechnology, Curtin Business School (Perth, WA); a Special International Professor ofKnow ledge Econom ics and Entrepreneurship at Beijing University ofAeronautics and Astronautics (China); an International Professor of Knowledge Economics and Entrepreneurship at the Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates; a Senior Research Fellow of the Enterprise Research and Development Centre Business School at the University of Central England inBirmingham; a Visiting Professor ofKnow ledge Econom ics and Entrepreneurship at the Jean Monnet Faculty of Political Studies (Second University of Naples, Italy); a member ofthe Advisory Council of the Institute for Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Nottingham, and a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Bologna, Italy, where he held the professorship of Economics ofInnovation in the Masters of Business Law and Technology Management.
In 2017, Professor Formica received the Innovation Luminary Award from the Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group for his work on modern innovation policy. Professor Formica serves as board member of Industry and Higher Education; the InternationalJournal of the Knowledge Economy; the International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development; the Journal of Global EntrepreneurshipResearch; the South Asian Journal ofManagement; and Frontiers in Education. He writes for the digital edition ofHarvard Business Review.
Professor Formica has published extensively in the fields of knowledge economics, entrepreneurship and innovation.