Open Innovation Trailblazer: Rubbermaid

Open Innovation at Rubbermaid

Each month, we feature a company that opens their doors to the ingenuity of independent inventors and entrepreneurs by using InventionHome’s submission management system called, This month’s company is Rubbermaid Home Products.

In an effort to complement their internal innovation capabilities, Rubbermaid recently turned their sights towards the independent inventor as a resource for innovation. But, before throwing open their doors and proclaiming to the inventor community a desire for submissions, the Rubbermaid team understood the importance of having a submission management process in place. Here are some of the specific areas they addressed, as well as some tips for other companies who are considering an “OI” platform…

  1. Provide specific guidelines for products they will consider.
    In Rubbermaid’s case, their focus is on existing categories (not necessarily to grow BEYOND those categories). So they developed a clear and concise list of their needs, and they strongly encourage inventors to stay within those boundaries.
  2. Develop ‘terms of submission’.
    Before Rubbermaid will review any submission, the submitter (inventor) is required to accept Rubbermaid’s “terms of submission”. Like a majority of “OI” companies, Rubbermaid’s terms include a statement of Non-Confidentiality, an acknowledgement that submitter is legally permitted to submit, is at least 18 years of age, etc. Rubbermaid strictly adheres to these terms and requires all submitters’ agreement before any invention details will be accepted.
  3. Implement inventor submission procedure. It was very important to Rubbermaid that all submissions funnel into their centralized system; so rather than accept ideas via fax, email, mail and various other means, they direct ALL submissions to an online form. Not only does the form tackle the ‘terms’ issue (#2, above), but it also takes the inventor through a series of questions necessary for review of the submission (ex: patent status, development status, selling history, inventor contact info, etc). Instead of entering into dialogue with inventors to collect the very basic info necessary for initial review, the system requires the info before any submission can be completed.
  4. Have a well-defined review process.
    Designate internal personnel for review. In Rubbermaid’s case, a member of the team makes the initial “go / no-go” decision, and for those items that make the initial cut, he or she has a designated cross functional team who offer feedback and conduct additional due-diligence on the item(s). By tightly defining their review process and chain-of-events, Rubbermaid is positioned to quickly identify great product opportunities and move them forward without delay.

InventionHome has worked closely with Rubbermaid to help develop their submission management program, and is providing hundreds of invention-submissions directly to Rubbermaid’s online submission form. For information on how InventionHome can help YOUR company, contact Bob Raspet at 866-844-6512 x 117.