TechConnect News: Interview with Paul France, Vice President-Open Innovation, MeadWestvaco

May 29, 2012 10:05 PM EST By: Jennifer Rocha

Mr. France views Open Innovation as a great way to accelerate innovation and profitable growth through collaboration and value creation.

TechConnect (TC) News: What are the specific technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?
Paul France (PF): We are mainly focused on 2 packaging platforms: paper and plastics. For the paper platform, we are seeking technology solutions in the areas of e.g. pulp and paper technology, corrugated technology, functional coatings such as water based barrier and release coatings, extrusion and lamination technology. For the plastic platform, we are matching external solutions with our core capabilities in closures, liquid delivery systems (sprayers and dispensers), bio-plastics, injection molding, thermoforming, and more.

We also have technology needs we are trying to solve that are specific to one of our business units. As an example, for our Health Care division we are mainly interested in technologies that can deliver a breakthrough in pharmaceutical compliance and adherence packaging.  For our Consumer and Electronics business unit we seek novel pilfer resistance packaging. More specific examples can be found on our Open Innovation portal

TC:What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology-partnerships? 
PF: MWV’s partnership play spans the whole spectrum: from working with universities on very early stage projects to working with suppliers who can bring solutions that are almost ready for commercialization. We work with small start-up companies, spin-offs from universities as well as big multinationals.  We work with local entrepreneurs and with inventors who might be living overseas in places such as Brazil, South Africa, and Japan.  We are even reaching out to companies, research institutes, VC and angel investors, incubators, etc and do it on a both a local and global scale.

TC:Please describe MeadWestvaco’s Open Innovation model, and how MWV utilizes this model to find new innovations.
Open Innovation is a great way for MWV to accelerate innovation and profitable growth through collaboration and value creation with anyone, anywhere.

PF: At the heart of our Open Innovation strategy and process is, an online innovation portal. MWV Exchange allows us to tap into the creative and technical power of the world at large. We can access inventors outside of the company and make them part of our active innovation program and community.

MWV Exchange lets us interact with the external world in two important ways. First, we post our tough innovation challenges and invite inventors to contribute. Second, we have and maintain a repository of unsolicited ideas that might be relevant to our practice areas. This opens our borders and provides us with a vehicle for people with innovative packaging solutions to connect with us directly.

TC: What do you hope to get out of TechConnect World?
PF:The rapid pace of innovation, rising costs of innovation, the “need for speed” and the complexity of the technical challenges, all make a compelling case for external collaboration. Open Innovation is all about ‘How can we tap into the vast external brain trust out there who can help us deliver those sales?’ We are hoping to find and connect with a few of those external collaborators at TechConnect as well as promote to a broader audience MWV list of technologies we are seeking.


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