Driving Innovation into the Marketplace
Advancing from a lab prototype to a commercial product or service offering can be a lengthy and risky process. IBM's First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) program is an attempt to take a short cut by bringing IBM researchers and clients together in the marketplace to test new technologies on real business problems and growth opportunities. The goal is to accelerate the delivery of innovative technologies into the marketplace from IBM's eight world-wide research labs and to drive greater value for our clients, business partners and the IBM Company. Together, IBM and its FOAK partners have had significant accomplishments, including finding ways of providing information for healthcare without compromising patient privacy, translating a real-time warning to troops in Iraq and driving down the cost of electricity by adding intelligence to power grids.
Founded in 1995, FOAK aims to leapfrog the traditional development cycle and help guide research efforts toward strategic markets. In the FOAK model, IBM market-facing teams identify strategic market segments and targets early adopter clients—those with a record of being first in introducing innovations to their industries—to work side-by-side with IBM scientists, testing new ideas and innovative technologies.
The success of a FOAK project takes different forms: knowledge gained from early in-market experiences with new technologies; development of a working prototype of a solution not yet available in the marketplace; the know-how to improve a client's business; or software components, methodologies and tools for reuse in IBM products and services. The program aims to prove market success with the first client so that the innovations can be made available on a larger scale through commercialized offerings from IBM's brands and strategic business partners.