Data, AI and robotics are real game changers for Philips

31 May 2024

Philips started 133 years ago with the production of the light bulb, but now the company has a focus on health technology from diagnostic scanners, ultrasound devices and software to patient monitors. But how can a company that started innovating in the industrial age remain relevant? Especially in an era of rapid change in innovation with robotics and AI.

Under the title ‘In the era of AI and robotics - How a 133-year-old company innovates by using a startup mentality’, Betsabeh Madani Hermann (Global Head of Research at Philips) spoke from her own experience about innovation during the ICT&health World Conference in the MECC: “I have learned from the entrepreneurial mindset and agility of startups, and can help healthcare institutions and companies like Philips to innovate efficiently and effectively.”

After having co-founded and invested in startups herself, she moved to Philips Innovation & Strategy, initially as Head of Strategy Connected Care and from 2023 Global Head of Research to focus on accelerating innovation. “Established large companies with a long history tend to focus on existing market dynamics that can directly conflict with building disruptive innovations of the future. The innovator’s dilemma states that new technologies can cause large companies to fail. To solve this dilemma, we try to disrupt ourselves before we are disrupted.”

Accelerating innovation

Madani Hermann’s focus as Global Head of Research is on accelerating innovation within Philips, drawing on her own experience with startups. During her presentation, Madani Hermann distinguishes between different ways of innovating at Philips, in addition to Research & Development that takes place within Philips’ business units, such as Image Guided Therapy and MR in Best.

First of all, there are the ‘Breakthrough Innovation Teams – for breakthrough innovations’. This involves realising innovations that will radically change the sector in the long term. Philips has chosen a limited number of projects in which teams are given the space to innovate, but must achieve certain milestones. Secondly, there are the ‘Exploratory Innovation Teams – focused on exploratory innovation’. Philips employees are encouraged to submit innovation ideas and are given the space to work on them under supervision for approximately six months.

“Finally, there are the public-private partnerships. By working together with governments, hospitals, universities or other partners, you can make faster progress in innovating within the sector and also improve and develop your innovations in practice. On the other hand, such a breath of fresh air of new ideas and perspectives can really stimulate both parties.”

Entering into the right partnerships

Entering into a partnership with an external partner does not happen overnight. Philips examines which issues are alive among healthcare professionals and where the company can help to solve them. Philips then looks for the right partnerships to innovate with governments, healthcare institutions, universities and other companies.

By innovation partner