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Computer-Aided Innovation Conference-Live Report

Computer-Aided Innovation Conference-Live Report

| On 19, Aug 2009

Ellen Domb

Hello to TRIZ Journal and Real Innovation readers from the great city of Harbin, China.   I will report live from the 3rd IFIP Working Conference on Computer Aided Innovation (CAI): Growth and Development of CAI.  Many aspects of CAI were discussed at previous meetings, but the theme of this year’s meeting is TRIZ.   The chairmen, Runhua Tan  and Noel Leon are well-known to our readers – they have brought a great variety of international speakers from Italy, India, US, China, UK, France, Germany, Mexico, and other parts of the world to Harbin, an industrial center about 800 km NE of Beijing.  

This will be a personal report on my experiences, and because of parallel sessions I will not be able to report on all papers.   See the full official program at

We started with a ceremonial session, a photo of all the participants (hundreds of participants, up from about 40 in 2007 in Detroit!) and addresses by the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology for all of China and the Vice-governor of Helongjiang Province.  The ministers made important comments on the growth of innovation culture and the need to develop concepts of intellectual property that encourage development without delaying development in a rapidly changing world.  (And the translators were great, or I wouldn’t be able to tell you this!)  The propagation of TRIZ in China, particularly in the last 2 years, has been dramatic, using the cascade model (experts train trainers, who have trained people from all walks of life in both industry and academia.)   In this province alone, more that 2000 people have been trained, and more than 70 international patents have come from the TRIZ applications. 

Noel Leon, chairman of the IFIP Working Group 5.4, gave some historical perspective and the present state of  the development of the CAI research.  

I chaired the first session, introducing keynote speakers (and TRIZ Journal authors) Darrell Mann (UK)  and Denis Cavallucci (France.)  Denis reported on his extensive survey (437 respondents from 14 countries) of how TRIZ is perceived and used.  He suggested the TRIZ Consortium model started at INSA in 2006 with Accelor/Mittel (steel), EADS (aerospace), and Alstrom (high speed trains) for use in other areas. 

Darrell addressed 3 kinds of contradictions that challenge the development of CAI:   Commercial, Technical, and Emotional issues.   The commercial contradictions are shown by the statistics – – for every $100M in research, $3M of revenue is generated (academic research statistics – – and this was the best group!) and in industry more than 90% of new products fail in the market place.   Overall, Darrell concluded that the technical solution is less than 20% of the reason for success.   How does CAI help with the business issues, consumer understanding, coordination of resources, and other issues that are the other 80% of what is needed for success?  How can CAI incorporated the TRIZ finding that self-organizing systems are better than rule-based systems for many situation.   His final challenge was to ask “who wants CAI?”  Darrell says that it is coming, and it won’t matter who wants it and who fights it, it is coming, as we gain enough understanding to use the systems.  

During the coffee break Prof. Tan, Denis Cavallucci, and I had a press conference with journalists from Hong Kong, Chinese national news agencies, and local Harbin papers.   They asked many questions both about TRIZ and about CAI and about the effects on the local economy of the  development of TRIZ – – so many questions that I was late for the next session and only heard a small part of Daniel Scheu’s paper on systematic innovation.   His example of the Fresnel lens showed the dramatic range of uses that the TRIZ/Systematic Innovation approach can create for one basic technology.

The last speaker of the morning was Gustav Olling.   He drew on his background in international automotive companies to talk about the end-to-end product development process, and all the areas where innovation is needed.  His theme was the need to capture experience and intelligence to develop systems that can cope with the complexity of product development in an unstructured environment.   His comments on the education that is needed for this kind of capability were of great interest to the audience.     

End of the morning session – I’ll report more this afternoon.

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