Current landscape in Open Innovation Platforms and the case of OI2 Lab
Innovation is one of the most important concerns of every organisation and thus constituting a critical success factor for them. Nowadays, innovation actors open-up their innovation processes and establish collaborative innovation models with external partners, creating the new era of innovation, the so called Open Innovation (OI). In general, OI denotes innovation processes that are not solely bound to internal R&D departments. Open innovation processes cross the boundaries of organizational units and involves new types of players in innovation activities. OI, thus, expands the solution space for new products and processes, services and solutions. Independent and distributed actors who are no longer bound to an organization can serve as idea providers, concept developers or implementers of innovations. On top of that, with the help of information and communication technologies the integration of external innovators into the innovation process can be now implemented by the well-know OI platforms.
Along these lines, OI platforms allow for the integration of innovation actors into the innovation process of an organizer by supporting the search for, the selection of and/or the implementation of innovations. From a technical perspective, OI platforms are virtual environments, which serve as infrastructure for the exchange of information. These environments particularly integrate IT-based tools for OI. Most of them are realized as web-based platforms, which means that they offer a web-based interface as a mean of interaction for the users. Those platforms are defined, virtual environments that provide digital services. They allow for interaction without time- or location-based constraints. In order to provide an OI platform, hardware, software and services are required.
A well-targeted question that immediately arises is: Why a company or organisation to join an OI platform? Well, OI platforms benefit at best the whole innovation ecosystem or network. Indeed problems get solved quicker, new solutions are more suitable for end-users and stakeholder collaboration is enhanced. Digital solutions also broaden the outreach and allow participants of different backgrounds, expertise and location to contribute. While OI platforms have been used internally in companies and more openly in research and development, digital solutions are finding their way also to the public sector, especially to citizen engagement in local communities making city development more transparent.
All over the world, plenty of OI platforms are now active with the mission to aid their users tap into the new opportunities arising from OI. They do this by providing digitally enabled tools that incorporates innovation contests, innovation communities, innovation market places and innovation toolkits as well as education and process consulting to their customers in various forms. Several of them also are highly established and experienced in the matchmaking process as the number of platforms that has already completed critical volumes of projects is on the rise. With that in mind, mostly large organizations and companies (such as P&G, Unilever, SAP, Boeing, Roche, Kraft Foods, Hallmark, Elektrolux, Siemens, Bayer, Rockefeller Foundation, NASA etc.) join such platforms to boost their R&D and find solutions to their business problems.
Regardless of the existing well-established OI platforms, the OI platform designed and implemented through the Horizon 2020 Innovation Action “INVITE”, the so call OI2 Lab, carries inherent strengths so as to penetrate and serve the OI landscape. Along these lines, OI2 Lab will complement the market by using a multi-sided, cross-border approach offering services to bridge the gaps in the European OI market. With that in mind, the OI2 Lab will utilise a suite of ICT tools including a(n):
- Open Multi-Sided Marketplace, where registered users will be able to upload technology requests or offers and to access leading knowledge networks
- E-Learning Environment, consisting of a suite of online resources, links to third party sources of information, a range of asynchronous training courses for self-guided learning and a suite of tools enabling learners to test their knowledge
- Online Collaboration Space, enabling cross-border participants in the pilots to interact and collaborate with each other virtually by using a range of tools, including webchat, video conferencing and the ability to “Ask the Network”
- Crowdfunding Tool, enabling users of the platform to pitch their collaborative innovation projects to potential investors and thereby to secure private investment for their projects.
Moreover, the OI2 Lab will provide a series of offline services delivered face-to-face, via telephone, email, video conference or webchat to help its users articulate their innovation or technology requirements (or offers) and screen potential collaboration partners, set up and manage cross-border collaborations as well as identify and secure sources of both public funding and private finance.
With that said, OI platforms are here to stay, as they are becoming an important part of the infrastructure for open innovation today. OI platforms are digitally enabled spaces helping their users to accelerate an open innovation project by providing dedicated tools, methods, access to an established community of solvers or participants, but also offer education and process consulting. In this context, the OI2 Lab will enter the OI platform landscape as a trusted and accessible one-stop shop for open innovation connecting innovation communities around the world and supporting innovators to find and capitalize on solutions easier and faster and thus being an established OI platform.
Short CV of the Author
Kevin Trendafili holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Macedonia along with a Master’s degree in Energy Management from International Hellenic University. He joined Q-PLAN INTERNATIONAL in September 2017, as a European Projects' Junior Consultant where he has been involved, amongst others, in the implementation of innovation projects and studies on behalf of the European Commission (EC).