A physical chemist by training, Ouderkirk focuses on evaluating innovative practices that can lead to breakthroughs in new discoveries. Analysis holds that incremental discoveries are predictable within a lead market, while breakthrough innovations impact adjacent markets. Thus, inventions like Multilayer Optical Film first found application in electronics displays. Today, those films are also used in smart cards, solar panels, window films, LED light bulbs and with current research holding promise in opto-electronics.
Ouderkirk’s studies indicate innovators bring different skills to the invention process. Specialists bring depth of knowledge in a discipline. Specialist-generalists explore both depth in their research with world-class expertise, plus knowledge across disciplines and patent familiarity. Both are critical to the innovation process. Ouderkirk, himself, holds 170 patents.
“3M’s culture of openness, networking and freedom to cross disciplines and boundaries and take risk are all incredibly important to the success of the company and in nurturing employees’ creativity and growth,” said Ouderkirk. “My work and the collaboration with my colleagues and with customers are pathways to impact and transform people’s lives with new ideas that come to life. I am deeply honored to be recognized as the 2013 Innovator of the Year by R&D Magazine.”
Ouderkirk is a respected author and teacher who has more than 50 publications and invited presentations. He has been recognized by the American Chemical Society with the National Award for Creative Invention. He was elected into the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. Andy has served on the advisory board of the Singapore National Research Foundation and the University of Southern California Center for Global Innovation. He is a Scientist-in-Residence with the Center for Innovation Research in Cultural Intelligence and Leadership at Nanyang Technological University.The Innovator of the Year Award is presented each year to an individual or team who has demonstrated leadership, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and success in the pursuit of science and technology. This year’s ceremony was held November 7 in Orlando, Fla. About 3M3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. 3M is the innovation company that never stops inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M employs 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 65 countries. For more information, visit www.3M.com or follow @3MNews on Twitter. 3M is a trademark of 3M Company.