Five Things You Might Not Know About Santokh Badesha

By Michelle Grainger

Santokh Badesha may be one of CIMS’s newest Industrial Fellows—he was appointed in the spring of 2013—but his face is familiar to most CIMS members, other fellows both Industrial and Academic, and many in the innovation management field. Santokh, who is now in his 34th year with Xerox, has been his company’s CIMS rep since 1995. He’s served as the lead on several CIMS-Xerox research engagements and presented talks at CIMS annual meetings, including the spring 2013 gathering.

But since time to talk at meetings and during projects is so limited for most of us, we can always benefit from reading more about our colleagues and associates. So we interviewed Santokh and learned a few things you might be interested in knowing about him:

He holds 187 patents, making him Xerox’s second-most prolific inventor. But he’s more interested in the practical application of ideas than creation for creation’s sake. “It’s not just the number of patents but whether they make money,” he said. “I’m probably one of the top 10 all time contributors in company when it comes to patents that have resulted in products.”

He has two earned Ph.D.s and an honorary doctorate. In 1973, Santokh received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Punjab Agricultural University. He earned a second Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K., three years later. “When I was growing up, being a science major was a very big deal,” he recalled. After getting his second Ph.D., he was offered a job teaching in India, but he and his wife decided to go to the U.S., where Santokh became a research teaching fellow at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute, where he worked for four years before joining Xerox. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Clarkson University in 2007. “I started in academia but I have never regretted going into industry; I’ve had a very productive career,” he said.

He’s a big believer in open innovation. For someone with so much IP to his credit, this might sound strange. But to Santokh, open innovation is the way forward for most companies who want to become or remain market leaders.One of his Industrial Fellow interests is serving as CIMS’s open innovation “ambassador.”

Not only should companies leverage their IP and promising products/services via partnering or licensing agreements with other firms, but academia and industry should work together more closely to help turn ideas into marketable products faster, Santokh said. “I am a firm believer that the real opportunities lie in connecting academic and industry research, and I have talked about the opportunities at a number of forums and panels,” Santokh said in a fall 2011 interview with CIMS’s Innovation Management Report Editor Michael Wolff. “There is lot of knowledge just sitting idle in academia that could be turned into investment options for economic development. In addition, I believe that academia and industry need to work together as partners to build ‘needs driven capabilities’ over ‘we are going to build and they will come.’”

He met former President George W. Bush during a White House Ceremony. In 2007 Santokh had the honor of representing Xerox when it received the National Medal of Honor in Science and Technology. Santokh was accompanied by his wife and two grown sons, who joined him at a lavish gala for honorees. Santokh, who noted that President Bush was better looking in person than he appeared in photos, called the experience “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

He’s a mall walker. As someone who walks every day, Santokh doesn’t let the harsh winters of upstate New York sideline his commitment to fitness. When it’s too cold for an outdoors workout, he simply heads to his local mall and puts in some laps.

Have any questions or comments for Santokh? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

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