State leaders should picture Ohio like a small country - and learn how countries like Finland, Singapore and New Zealand aggressively promote their strengths in innovation, University of Cincinnati design guru Craig Vogel said at the Ohio Polymer Summit.
Vogel, who spoke at the May 23 conference in Columbus, was the first of many experts to discuss the Polymer Summit's theme of innovation. He said quality is a given now, so innovation is a key for U.S. industry to remain globally competitive.
``China is already investing in design. They're going to have 500 [university] programs on design in the next five years. They already have 250 up and running,'' said Vogel, director of UC's Center for Design Research and Innovation.
Vogel said Ohio can follow the lead of countries like Finland, which has launched a program called Finnovation to spread advances made by Helsinki-based cell phone giant Nokia Oyj across the country. Korea has a national plan. Taiwan's government-funded program aims to improve design. Singapore is positioning itself as a centrally located hub for education in Southeast Asia.
Regarding one U.S. firm, Keith Grime, vice president of research and development at Procter & Gamble Co. in Cincinnati, told how the company opened up its innovation process. He said P&G spends $2 billion a year for R&D and employs 9,000 in R&D around the world. The consumer products giant has 22 brands that generate sales of $1 billion or more.
Historically, Grime said, P&G experts did all new product development by making connections within the company. Now, however, the company employs 70 technology entrepreneurs around the world, in China, India, Japan, Latin America and the U.S.
``If we're going to continue to be a global competitor, we have to be able to link these resources today,'' Vogel said.