This article examines an experiment in open innovation applied to scientific research on Type 1 diabete sat Harvard Medical School. In the traditional research process, a single research team typically carries through each stage of the process—from generating the idea to raising money to carrying out the research and publishing the results. Harvard Catalyst, a pan-Harvard agency with a mission to speed biomedical research from the lab to patients’ bedsides, modified the traditional grant proposal process as an experiment in bringing greater openness into every stage of research.
Participation was successfully extended to nontraditional actors. In the end, 150 new hypotheses and research pathways were proposed. Teams were invited to propose projects on the 12 most promising of these; today, seven teams are carrying out the research. The Harvard Catalyst experience suggests that open-innovation principles can be adopted even within a well-established and experienced innovation-driven organization.