STC Innovations

Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations

Open innovation accesses the cognitive surplus and passion of people in all four corners of the globe to solve important problems.  Spencer Trask pioneered the field of open innovation with strategic partners IBM, Manpower, Eli Lilly, Proctor and Gamble and the Air Force Research Lab to provide breadth and depth to innovation capabilities for major companies and public-private partnerships.



Beginning with corporate partner Eli Lilly, Spencer Trask developed InnoCentive from the first online open innovation platform into the market leader in prize–-based innovation challenges. InnoCentive provided several models featured in the White House Strategy for Innovation[1] as devised by the first White House Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra.


The experience with InnoCentive led Spencer Trask to recruit the Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations management team to push the boundaries of global collaboration. It started this push by building the innovation software firm, inno360, which then partnered with IBM Watson to combine cognitive intelligence with open innovation.


Evolution of Innovation

Spencer Trask CI developed inno360 as an engine for discovering innovative solutions and networking individuals to collaborate efficiently. The service was co-created in partnership with P&G, General Mills and the Air Force Research Labs. Clients using the inno360 software include: NASA, Lockheed, Samsung, Nike, Disney, Nestlé, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Exxon Mobil, Unilever, Coca-Cola.[2]  Spencer Trask CI also launched the state of Virginia health innovation network as part of the Virginia Health Portal with Spencer Trask CI subsidiary, Vencorps and inno360 inside.[3]


Introducing IBM

With support from the senior IBM executives who joined Spencer Trask CI, Kimberlin launched the Spencer Trask and IBM relationship with the Intelligent Transportation Society Association challenge in 2009. [4] [5]  Traffic Technology Today commented on this event: “In partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations, ITS America has announced a new global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating traffic congestion.”[6]  Gerard Mooney, inno360 director and IBM General Manager of Government and Education Services at the time, stated: “We are extremely interested in working with external innovators, like Spencer Trask.[7]  Don Tapscott, Spencer Trask CI Executive Committee Member, wrote about the importance of this ITSA project in his book Macrowikinomics: “In fact, smart mainstream VCs are excited about the concept.  Kevin Kimberlin, the chairman of Spencer Trask (Thomas Edison’s venture capitalist), calls (this) ‘21st century barn raising.’”[8]



Spencer Trask CI, with the guidance of Gerard Mooney, Irving Wladawsky-Berger and Mike Turillo, developed the Watson-inno360 partnership.

Highlights of that partnership include a featured appearance at the 2016 Vogue magazine Met Fashion Ball, and a show-stopping exhibit at the 2016 World of Watson event in Las Vegas.[9]

“Marchesa turned to IBM partner inno360 to source a fabric for their creation. Using inno360’s R&D platform – – powered by a combination of seven Watson services – – the team search more than 40,000 sources of fabric information, narrowing down to 150 sources of the most useful options to consider for the dress.”[10]

Further cementing its Watson partnership, inno360’s CEO was a keynote speaker at the IBM Watson 2015 Conference. He was introduced by Lauri Saft, VP of IBM Watson Ecosystems with, “We have one of our partners with us who has been leading an effort, specifically around getting to this deep research, really helping connect professions with this range of information.”[11]

This performance put inno360 on the front page of the 2015 IBM Annual Report.[12]

Most recently, at the IBM Investor Analyst Day, on February 25, 2016, Spencer Trask’s Mike Turillo presented inno360 — just after the IBM business overview by IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty. He was brought on stage by David Kenny, global leader of the IBM Watson division with the following introduction:

“Again, it is first-inning. The ecosystem partners grew 3X last year. The first one I want to talk about is inno360. I am very excited about this partner because they, in turn, are bringing Watson to lots of other big, important companies making important decisions with AI.”[13]


The Global Water Port

In March 2016, The White House hosted its first Water Summit.  Part of that summit highlighted the work of The Water Council, which empowers clients’ efforts through a collaborative innovation platform called inno360.  This was a partnership prompted by Jeff Joerres when he connected inno360 and the Milwaukee-based Water Council — an online research and collaboration system and the most comprehensive water ecosystem of its kind.  Now, the Global Water Port is powered by inno360 in conjunction with IBM Watson.  In announcing the Global Water Port, Mark Malone, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), made this comment, “We look forward to using the inno360 technology to quickly expand the depth and breadth of research and innovation with our diverse partners.”[14]


Spencer Trask CI has built a strong foundation for bringing collaborative tools and processes to government and corporate clients.  Public-private partnerships of the type Spencer Trask has engineered are just the beginning of a movement toward public-private intelligent collaborative partnerships that Spencer Trask CI will drive in the future.


[1] Chopra, Aneesh, EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20502, 1 February 8th, 2012, MEMORANDUM FOR THE NATIONAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY; Aneesh Chopra, US Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director for Technology, Office of Science & Technology Policy.


[3] Virginia Health Innovation Network:

[4] IBM newsroom – ITS America, IBM, Spencer Trask and partners announced the winner in challenge for traffic congestion solutions 9. 23. 2009.  “Traffic to to congestion is taking a heavy toll on drivers, city infrastructures, and the environment,” said Scott Belcher, Pres. and CEO, IT S America. “That’s why ITS America, IBM, Spencer Trask in a number of supporting organization developed the idea of the congestion challenge.”

[5] ITSA Vision, June 2009 – video 1:15 to 2:55 and on to end, citing Spencer Trask’s Mike Turillo.

[6] Traffic Technology Today; IBM, Spencer Trask and partners launch global competition. ”In partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask  collaborative innovations, ITS America has announced a new global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating traffic congestion.”

[7] ITSA Challenge 2 4 x 3 interview

[8] Tapscott, Don, Macroeconomics, pg 54; Portfolio/Penguin, 2012.





[13] The entire audio presentation by top management of IBM and inno360 can be found at: