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What a week it was!  Last Thursday and Friday Invention Machine held its annual Power To Innovate conference.  The event was well attended and drew international representation of users of Invention Machine Goldfire innovation software platform.

For me, this is always a terrific event.  The pre-event activities began on Wednesday with a workshop on specific innovation methods.  In parallel with the workshop, the Invention Machine Customer Advisory Council, a group of lead Goldfire customers, met to review the 2010 Goldfire technology roadmap.  The feedback provide by our clients is always very valuable in shaping the capabilities we provide in Goldfire to knowledge enable innovation workers.

During the two days of the main conference, there were a number great sessions and highlights.  The theme for this year’s conference was "Collaborate to Innovate."  Mark Atkins, CEO of Invention Machine, gave the opening keynote in which he described the need for and benefits of creating a vibrant Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem.  This was followed by Boston Scientific’s Randy Schiestl, VP Research and Development, and Jude Currier, Cardiovascular Knowledge Management & Innovation Practices Lead, who described how Boston Scientific is building its innovation competence and the central role Goldfire and the Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem play in this.

Right after lunch, Jim Belfiore (@jsbelfiore on Twitter) presented a fascinating case study of how he had used the power of Goldfire’s latest innovation research capabilities to accelerate the exploration of global knowledge around lymphoma.  I followed Jim with a presentation of the near term Goldfire product roadmap showing how global innovation communities will be connected through the innovation collaboration platform.

There were also plenty of great breakout sessions.  A sampling of the user led sessions includes: Jill Kunzelman, Senior Research Engineer at PolyOne, talked about her experiences and lessons learned in driving a successful deployment of innovation software; Curtis Barr, Bemis Research & Development, discussed using Goldfire as a catalyst for the R&D process; and Rich Durand, Director, Material and Characterization Science at Sun Chemical, showed some interesting examples of how the technique of function modeling can be used to understand chemical innovation challenges.

I enjoyed presenting two breakout sessions.  The first was on building a high performance innovation organization.  The other was on overcoming the challenges of open innovation.

Of course beyond the sessions, the opportunity to network is one of the best parts of a conference like Power To Innovate.  It gave me a great chance to met friends, old and new, from the global Goldfire community.  It was also great to catch up with two fellow innovation bloggers.  Andrea Meyer was the events official blogger and also did a great job of tweeting live from the event.  Drew Boyd was also there.  (You can find Drew’s write up of the event on his blog here.)

There is a lot more I could say about the 2009 edition of Power To Innovate.  But, I think Mary Beth Robles, VP External Innovation at Colgate-Palmolive, said it best when she opined that Power To Innovate is the best innovation conference because it brings together real users and the leading innovation minds from around the globe without a bunch of vendors or talking heads.