Open innovation – innovate our way to the future?

Big companies, like IBM and Google, are looking to open innovation. Open innovation platforms, like InnoCentive, outsource innovation problems to the world public to solve. Why this focus on open innovation?

The short answer is as follows: companies are looking to open innovation for faster development and market launch of new products and services, and to diversify risk and the sharing of both market and technological uncertainties of innovation. InnoCentive crowdsource innovation problems to the whole world via an online platform, so that the smartest people in the world can compete to come up with the best ideas which will solve problems that matter to business and society.

Technoport has invited Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of Health Data Consortium, to come and hold a Technoport Talk on open innovation. Spradlin is the former President and CEO of InnoCentive Inc., the crowdsourcing pioneer connecting corporations, government, and foundations to a global network of innovators over the internet. Spradlin’s Talk will take place during “Topplederkonferansen” at NTNU, 15 October.

Spradlin croppedSpradlin will give us insight into the open innovation model, a model more and more used during the last decade. He will talk about crowdsourcing; give good examples on how this works, and how the company leaders at the conference could use this and proceed to formulate their problem accurately in order to improve the quality and efficiency of their innovation efforts. Technoport find Spradlin’s thoughts and knowledge on this topic inspiring. We believe that open innovation is a way to innovate faster and better.

The conference is for invited only, but we will of course film Spradlin’s Talk, and share it with you. In the meantime, let us get to know the terms open innovation and crowdsourcing better.

What is open innovation?
According to Henry Chesbrough, open innovation is a way companies do innovation and R&D where they make a much greater use of external ideas and technology  in their own business, and in return let their own unused ideas be used in other businesses. Chesbrough is known for prompting the term “open innovation” in 2003.

The old model of innovation was a closed innovation system where ideas came from within the company, for example from an internal science and technology base in the company. The ideas were then developed, within the company itself, and eventually reached the market as a product. This is the classic technology push model, and worked for a long time in many industries.

However, today there is too much useful knowledge available in too many areas all over the world, to try to make it all yourself. Therefore one needs an open innovation model, says Chesbrough

By using open innovation processes companies will have more creative minds from other sectors working on their problem. The company can end up with more, differentiated, and better solutions than if the problem was solved internally. Open innovation is also positive for entrepreneurs because they will increase their accuracy when doing market research and customer targeting.

What is crowdsourcing?
You can say that crowdsourcing is a way of doing open innovation. Crowdsourcing means literally to outsource an activity to a crowd. One way of doing this is that a company present their problem externally, and the crowd will try to solve it and submit their solution to the company. The company will later choose one of the proposed solutions, reward it, and thereby produce it and commercialize it.

Innocentive is perhaps one of the best examples on crowdsourcing, having a global reach. In total, more than 300 000 solvers from over 200 countries are registered at Innocentive, 1650 external challenges have been posted, and the premium challenge success rate is 85 %.

Open innovation and crowdsourcing at Technoport’s big innovation conference in 2014?
We are looking forward to introduce the concept of open innovation and crowdsourcing to the business leaders at “Topplederkonferansen”, and see if they find that open innovation can help their business. Based on the experiences we’ll draw from this event, we wil try to figure out how we can include open innovation-related activities and segment during our main innovation conference in 2014.

We are also interested in YOUR opinion: would you like to see crowdsourcing in action at Technoport’s big innovation conference in 2014?

Photo: Opensourceway (CC)