Open Innovation – A New Form Of Innovation

Innovation challenges, hackathons, external product development are all new phenomena that can best be summarized under the concept of open innovation. For Henry Chesbrough, one of its pioneers, open innovation is:


„Open Innovation is the use of purposive in flows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate innovation. With knowledge now widely distributed, companies cannot rely entirely on their own research, but should acquire inventions or intellectual property from other companies when it advances the business model.“


Unfortunately the concept is very much associated with the business sector only; and in such a way Chesbrough defines open innovation as a process taking place mainly in commercial research and development, reducing it to product development. But we are witnessing a huge global flow of ideas being shared across all sectors, not only business. There is a much greater phenomenon taking place, in which all sorts of organizations, companies and individuals are collaborating in brainstorming processes targeting all sorts of issues all over the world.


Open innovation is therefore a global phenomenon. People share ideas and work together through open and transparent networks, be it for commercial or social purposes, thanks to the ease of online collaboration tools and social media.


Seeking ideas and solving problems is just one of the many facets of open innovation. “Wisdom of the Crowd” processes have taken place in various forms and in many areas for decades. But it is now, in the information or digital age, that they are being exploited at such a fast pace.




One well-known open innovation platform is OpenIDEO, on which global communities can take part in solving any of the various challenges presented on the platform. One such challenge, initiated by development aid agency UKAID, asked “How might we make low-income urban areas safer and more empowering for women and girls?”

OpenIDEO’s commercial counterpart Innocentive offers companies to externalize their product issues or other particular challenges. Companies that have specific challenges around their product can post them on Innocentive to attract ideas from around the world to collaborate on finding a solution. The person with the best solution proposal earns a sum paid by the company. Danish toy maker Lego has been using this prototype for years. It started involving its consumers to develop new products after realizing that they are often the best product developers. If a product idea reaches a certain threshold within the community, it becomes a selling product and the inventor receives some royalties.


>> Ch. 2 Co-Creation