‘Open innovation’ (OI) was coined by Professor Henry Chesbrough in his book of the same name. He says that OI “assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology.”
OI is a different paradigm to traditional internal corporate innovation such as crowdsourcing ideas or redirecting resources. It’s about creating inflows of knowledge from the external environment and outflows of knowledge to the ecosystem through collaboration. A Deloitte report about open R&D models found that organisations pursuing OI were three times more likely to achieve late-stage success. Here are four ways that your organisation can leverage OI to boost your success rate.
1. Expert Alliances
Given the amount of information in circulation, companies should open their doors to alternate ways of thinking and testing new ideas. ‘Collaboration’ is the name of the game and large companies can benefit from inviting external experts to discuss and actively solve R&D challenges. Google excels at corporate innovation through its partnership with the scientific community. Through funding over 250 academic research projects each year, Google can identify and access breakthrough opportunities. Their publications can be accessed via arXiv and its own research site. Google also keeps places for 30 scholars to spend sabbaticals at Google each year. This type of OI has led to projects such as Google Brain, Google’s deep learning artificial intelligence research project. Microsoft has also joined forces with IBM, Intel, the European commission and other major organisations to work on a new breed of “Cognitive Home.”
2. Corporate Accelerators
Corporate accelerator programs bring together industry corporations and early-stage startups. Usually, the corporate partner provides capital, mentorship and office space, while the startups offer innovative products and services, new technology and nimble ways of working. Some of the many benefits to corporates include faster time to market for new innovations, exposure to emerging tech and talent, positive PR and more engaged employees. Startups benefit through access to funding, tapping into a larger customer base and domain expertise as well as distribution channels that give them a better chance at scaling. For example,mid-tier law firms Mills Oakley worked with Collective Campus to propel legaltech synergies. Collective Campus is also partnering with Microsoft to accelerate opportunities in the mixed reality space.
3. Innovation Outposts
Establishing innovation outposts in areas such as Silicon Valley, Boston and Tel Aviv has become a popular way for large companies to tap into corporate innovation. This report by Capgemini and Altimeter found that 38% of the leading 200 companies have set up innovation centers in a global tech hub. The purpose of the outpost is to monitor companies and competitors for new technologies, emerging threats and potential tools for disruption. Large companies able to detect these opportunities are quicker to adapt to new technology, create new products or invest in rising startups. Alessandro di Fiore, one of Europe’s leading thinkers and chairman of Harvard Business Review Italia, suggests outposts should map out local relationships, propagate intelligence and insights and speed up the corporate deal making process. This is to ensure innovation outposts succeed in the face of detachment from the mothership.
4. Idea Rallies and Public Challenges
An idea rally or public challenge is an open forum for hundreds of experts, customers and companies to collaborate on a specific problem statement or R&D topic. Corporates benefit through receiving customer input, deep knowledge and synergies with third party providers. All ideas that can solve the problem are welcome. For example, GE’s Geniuslink coordinates its open innovation efforts for GE and non-GE organizations that choose to work with them. From this, GE developed FUSE which has sponsored over 500 challenges in the last five years and brought together a network of over 7 million experts. MIT Sloan’s report on using open innovation to identify the best ideas found that with an abundance of ideas, quality of the average idea may fall but the best one is more likely to be spectacular.
What is your organisation doing to activate open innovation? What have you found works and what doesn’t? Comment below, hit up our Twitter @collcampus or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.