Open innovation def

Open innovation def

Open Innovation Defined

Open innovation def is the strategic approach of fostering innovation by collaborating with external entities rather than relying solely on internal resources. Major industrial players have embraced open innovation def for over five decades, establishing partnerships with industry experts, research institutes, and various external stakeholders. This innovative practice encompasses diverse formats, including research partnerships, consortiums, industrial chairs, working groups, co-development initiatives, and the utilization of external technical knowledge through licensing agreements such as patents and know-how sharing. These formats involve integrating external parties into the organization’s research and development process, either by sharing internal knowledge or incorporating external expertise.

The Evolution of Open Innovation Def

Open innovation def, once confined to the industrial sector and R&D teams, has transformed dramatically, transcending its initial boundaries through the wave of digital transformation. The advent of startups has disrupted traditional innovation paradigms, urging companies to rethink their approach to innovation in response to the rapidly changing business landscape. The digital transformation, which began in the 2000s, exposed established companies to heightened risks of disruption, motivating them to explore innovative methodologies like agile methods, lean startup, design thinking, and growth hacking.

In response to these shifts, various business sectors, particularly those close to consumers, have adopted open innovation practices to remain competitive. Marketing teams and human resources departments have also played pivotal roles in fostering collaboration and understanding market needs.


Traditionally, manufacturers operated in a “closed” mode, guarding their research and product development within the confines of their laboratories. However, open innovation has emerged as a transformative approach since the 1960s and 1970s, enabling companies to accelerate product development, discover new growth avenues, and reduce innovation-related risks by collaborating with external stakeholders.

Open innovation serves several key objectives:

  1. Discover new ideas and solutions.
  2. Identify growth opportunities.
  3. Accelerate innovation processes.
  4. Mitigate investment risks and development costs.
  5. Establish innovative partnerships with researchers, startups, and other companies.
  6. Adapt the business model to changing market demands.
  7. Incorporate end-consumer needs and preferences.
  8. Co-create products and services.
  9. Transform corporate culture and engage employees.
  10. Enhance expertise in emerging domains.
  11. Attract fresh talent.
  12. Promote a positive company image and effective communication.

Open innovation’s primary objectives involve accelerating and co-creating innovation while adapting to a dynamic market. It aims to overcome the challenges of lengthy product development cycles, market volatility, and the need for user-focused innovation.

In conclusion, open innovation def is a strategic shift that requires a cultural change within organizations to enable agility, break down silos, and foster a culture of innovation at all levels. This transformation is essential for companies looking to thrive in an era marked by continuous change and dynamic market demands.

Practical Guide to Open Innovation Formats

In the realm of open innovation, various formats exist, each with its unique purpose and name. While classic collaborative research and partnership research formats are well-established, this glossary page focuses on the contemporary forms of open innovation.

A. New Forms

Modern open innovation, particularly in sectors like healthcare, automotive, and energy, has shifted its focus towards acquisition formats and relationships with startups. This article delves into these innovative formats.

Objectives and Targets

In this section, we explore open innovation formats that primarily aim to enhance communication, employer branding, acculturation, and sector monitoring. These formats target various stakeholders, from schools and students to innovative startups and a sponsoring organization’s innovation teams.


Within this category, you will find descriptions of the following open innovation formats:

  1. Creathon: A one-day ideation event.
  2. Hackathon / Bootcamp: Challenge-based events extended to non-developer participants.
  3. Challenge/Prize: Structured formats with financial rewards or skills sponsorship for winning projects.

B. For Stimulating Innovation

Objectives and Targets

This section explores open innovation formats aimed at launching new products and services, monitoring the future, and acculturating internal teams. The primary targets are startups and employees.


Within this category, you’ll find insights on formats such as:

  1. Via calls for projects/challenges: Identifying startups with innovations relevant to specific sectors.
  2. Via incubation/internal acceleration: Time-limited support programs for startups.
  3. Innovation teams: The role of internal open innovation teams in driving innovation.

C. For Cultural Transformation

Objectives and Targets

This section delves into open innovation formats designed to foster cultural transformation within organizations. The targets include all employees and focus on training, monitoring, and inspiring innovation.


Here, we discuss formats such as “acculturation,” “innovation lab,” and “intrapreneurship programs” that contribute to cultural change within organizations.

To conclude, most of these formats can be conducted either face-to-face or through 100% distance learning. There are exceptions and hybrid formats, such as inter-company programs focused on sustainable innovation and new business models. Or other in-house programs, which can vary from one company to another. In all cases, the key is to identify the organization’s needs and establish the most appropriate format.

The Limits & Constraints of Open Innovation Def

The limits of internal open innovation def 

This section outlines the limitations of internal open innovation, emphasizing the challenges of scaling, transforming work practices, and integrating an innovative mindset within organizations.

The limits of external open innovation def

Here, we explore the challenges related to external open innovation, including the often contractual nature of relationships with startups, a lack of long-term involvement from in-house teams, and alignment of interests between large corporations and startups.

The Importance of Responsible Innovation

This section highlights the need for open innovation to adapt more rapidly to the ever-evolving economic, health, and transition crises. It discusses the episodic nature of programs and the necessity of thinking long-term and beyond market trends.

Emphasizing the need to incorporate responsible innovation into corporate strategy, this section addresses the limited understanding of societal and environmental issues within organizations and the importance of aligning innovation practices with these challenges.

In conclusion, this text provides a comprehensive overview of open innovation formats, their objectives, and their limitations, highlighting the need for innovation practices that can meet the demands of an evolving market and society.

Impact-Driven Open Innovation Def: The New Trend

Transition to Technical and Scientific Innovations

This section explores the evolving trend of impact-driven open innovation. It highlights the shift from digital innovations to more technical and scientific solutions, particularly focusing on issues like decarbonization.

In this part, the text delves into the intricacies of addressing complex issues such as decarbonization in open innovation. It discusses the challenges in estimating and assessing potential negative impacts and emphasizes the importance of collective carbon neutrality.

This section underlines the necessity of moving from a bilateral approach to a multi-expert approach in open innovation. It stresses the importance of integrating a wide range of skills and viewpoints early in the innovation process.

Responsible Open Innovation Def: Definition and Importance

In this section, the text introduces responsible open innovation and its importance in addressing ecological and social transition challenges. It explains how the European Commission initiated the concept of Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) in research framework programs like Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe.

Benefits of Open Innovation for Impact

This part outlines the benefits of open innovation with an impact focus, including its ability to integrate economic, social, and environmental constraints, identify opportunities for sustainable growth, and align business with societal issues.

Key Principles of Open Innovation with Impact

Here, the text discusses key principles of open innovation with impact, such as the search for sustainable solutions, a multi-stakeholder/science-society approach, and co-creation. It emphasizes the need for a collaborative and scientific approach.

Best Practices for Open Innovation

Startup Sourcing and Beyond

This section highlights the utility of startup sourcing in open innovation. It then raises the question of addressing problems without existing solutions and the importance of collaboration between different sectors.

Setting Up an Impact-Oriented Open Innovation Program

In this part, the text provides insights into setting up an impact-oriented open innovation program. It discusses the importance of gathering the right experts, developing skills in impact, properly defining the problem, aligning it with societal and environmental issues, and adopting a project mode approach.

Fostering Commitment and Collaboration

The text concludes by stressing the need for commitment and collaboration in open innovation. It highlights the importance of skills, methodology, and facilitation tools to align various players and foster collaboration.

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