Open Innovation and how it can unlock digital opportunity

Open Innovation is a hot topic for business today, as a potential shared source of new solutions and tools to keep companies moving ever forward. But what is Open Innovation and how can it help corporates?

What is Open Innovation?

Open innovation was first discussed as a concept in the early part of this century. It centred on a new approach that was a complete contrast to the traditional business mentality of secrecy and competitiveness.

Instead of companies paying highly qualified technical experts to work in very confidential silos to develop new products and services, Open Innovation harnesses expertise across the marketplace, combining academia and business demand to jointly create new innovations in a public, open environment.

A changing mindset

Many forward-thinking companies are embracing open innovation, but it does require a shift in corporate attitude. Historically most businesses have felt that the secret to future success was to attract and retain the smartest thinkers and tightly control intellectual property (IP).

Today, modern companies are taking the view that drawing from the outside environment can drive faster and more profitable progress. By sharing your own expertise and discoveries with other experts in the field, business models can evolve and improve more quickly.

Tapping into open innovation

Today, new innovations often originate in start-up companies and in academic settings. Companies that want to profit from the latest thinking globally should make sure that they are well connected in the marketplace. That means keeping abreast of industry news, attending expos and events and leveraging business digital networks frequent networking.

That way, you can identify the start-up innovators and build mutually beneficial relationships. Start-ups need support and funding, so some form of joint venture can be the perfect way for both parties to gain and grow.

Join global brands in harnessing innovation

Open Innovation is an increasingly common way of working in all kinds of sectors, from engineering to government. Some companies are actively fostering Open Innovation. One example is Samsung, which is collaborating with all kinds of start-ups to harness the latest ideas under an extensive programme of innovation.

Similarly, Lego evolved its own initiative, Lego Ideas, to harness people’s thoughts around the world. The Lego ideas website encourages people to design their own Lego sets and vote on each other’s ideas.

A much-used saying within the Lego organisations sums up the Open Innovation concept in simple terms: “People don’t have to work for us to work with us.”

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