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Cultivating Ideas & Internal Communities at Scale


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Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well through their prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products; they work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions.

Merck knew that an effective innovation program could be vital to the business; however, the company was experiencing difficulty scaling and cultivating a culture of innovation. They needed a better way to engage participants, collect and manage ideas, as well as evaluate and prioritize ideas for development.

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Merck’s internal innovation program had grown organically for several years, despite the lack of an accessible innovation program management platform.

John Schreiber, Associate Director of Program/Project Management at Merck & Co., Inc., said, “When I joined our innovation initiative early on, we were just capturing ideas in an ever growing list. We weren’t really running an ongoing program or managing and evaluating those ideas to carry them all the way through the development pipeline.”

Merck soon realized that by not properly evaluating the growing list of ideas opportunities were being missed and these valuable ideas were falling through the cracks. They needed a dedicated, scalable platform for running their innovation program.



Merck launched the Brightidea innovation platform to manage its internal innovation program in May, 2013. Right from the start, Merck began cultivating communities in areas of the company to develop and run innovation initiatives across the organization.

A dedicated team of program managers’ build relationships across the organization with key business unit stakeholders, align projects with the business strategy, and help the innovation communities set up initiatives and bridge connections to key stakeholders for program support.

Now, the company runs five ongoing innovation initiatives alongside ten short-term initiatives per year. Schreiber says, “Running Challenges was difficult before. Now, with the Brightidea platform, we can turn around innovation initiatives very quickly from initiation to getting them up and running. We couldn’t do this before at all, and now to be able to run these innovation initiatives on a much bigger scale is phenomenal.”


The Brightidea platform has enabled the Merck innovation program and global community to scale. To date, Merck has developed four innovation communities across the organization that are self-sustaining to run innovation initiatives in countries including China, Australia, UK and more.

Today, the program has grown to over 8,500 employees actively engaged in ongoing innovation initiatives. One example of a successful initiative is called “Map My Mind”, a tool where employees can review experience and background profiles to identify the best people for developing internal teams quickly and easily.

In the near future, Merck plans to optimize innovation outcomes from their program by mining through previously submitted ideas to find additional opportunities. Not losing a single idea, and having a repository of high quality ideas to easily score and evaluate, has been a key value-add for innovation within Merck.

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