Open Innovation Platform - The story of creating Oi2Lab
Taking into consideration the fast technology advancements, the evolution in consumer demands is forced rapidly in a way that mankind would have never imagined. These trends are driving a need for reshaping businesses all over the world by defining new ways of working, relating and learning. Besides, it is accepted by both large and small companies that innovation and creativity are essentials in order to keep business success and sustain competitiveness. However, the traditional closed innovation model, used until today, faces barriers such as lack of new ideas within the internal company`s team. More specifically, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing a number of challenges that include increased costs, information asymmetries and trust-based risks especially when trying to enter cross-border collaborations. Having analyzed these emerging needs, the position of the current market of Open Innovation (OI) platforms and OI service providers has been identified along with the requirements that are necessary for novel OI offerings. And the idea of Oi2Lab platform was born!
The factor that distinguishes the evolution of this platform when compared to other similar ones is the contextualizing findings, which were taken into consideration, according to the stakeholders’ needs after studying the European OI market and specifically after analyzing three cases of successful OI platforms and service providers. The cases are Ninesigma, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and Steinbeis which are well known as experts in this domain within Europe. Their contribution in OI is to facilitate collaboration among leading businesses and technology providers, that helps defining what is still missing from the market! Based on the analysis whatsoever the following gaps arose and Oi2Lab has offered a solution:
- Easily accessible services that connect clients and solution providers across every sector in order to find new solutions to critical technology and business challenges
- Services that support multi-lateral collaborations
- Balanced capacity of building in both innovation and internationalization support services
- An open network of solution providers as well as solution seekers applicable to a large community
After having summarized these findings, Oi2Lab platform managed to bring new innovative ideas for linking EU’s fragmented systems and empower businesses to tap into Europe’s knowledge and innovation potential.
Starting from the fact that in this platform various calls are hosted from several providers, there is a ranking of them based on the similarity that is retrieved by the specially designed OI2LAB matchmaking engine . Thus, a personalized view of the list of the calls is offered, facilitating the process of finding appropriate content by each user. In order to do so, every user must complete a profile by giving some essential information about sectors of interest and offered skillsets, Figure 1. At the same time, all calls for competitions, collaborations etc are uploaded with tags by sectors and skillsets, Figure 2, as well. Thus, the user has the choice to see calls that are more correlated, Figure 3, with his/ her sectors or skillsets in a different weight according to what choice he/ she makes.
Figure 1 User’s Profile Information
Figure 2 Open Call's Information
Figure 3 Similarity ranking based on skillsets and sectors
The content is open to all visitors of the platform, however, in order to communicate with the community, SMEs or researchers or account managers etc, one has to create his/her own profile. The ultimate outcomes of implementing Oi2Lab are to fulfill the gaps that were identified during analysis of the existing technology. Gaps that include:
- Incremental versus breakthrough innovation
- Multilateral collaborations
- Open networks
- Online and offline services
- Innovation capacity and capability
- Leveraging finance
- SME access to Open Innovation
- Business model innovation
- Post-agreement services
In Oi2Lab, users can upload new ideas, search for collaborators and search for funding. Meanwhile, providers can offer targeted services while creating their own groups of people who have similar interests and might create collaborations.
Aggregate e-mails are sent every 15 days, informing registered users about new calls, Figure 4, and financial opportunities that have been uploaded to the platform. Moreover, an informative mail of new registered users, Figure 5, is sent to facilitate the extension of existing networks. All the emails have personalized content for the user they are sent so that it matches his/ her preferences. New users suggested are of similar interests with the user and financial opportunities are of the same country as the user offering actually helpful information by saving time.
Figure 4 Email for new calls
Figure 5 Email for new registered users
Let’s not forget to mention that this platform fulfills all the requirements of a social platform as well by providing an online community with contacts who can be connected in order to chat, discuss in forums and create virtual rooms for exchanging ideas and multimedia content. Furthermore, online courses are offered in the e-learning section about OI, Business Models and smart ways of networking and collaborating better. Last but not least, the whole platform is gamified with a strategy that offers points which can be redeemed for meaningful tangible awards. During the interactions in Oi2Lab, points are collected by predefined actions which afterwards lead to privileged awards, Figure 6.
Figure 6 Progress bars for tangible awards
From assessment of business models by experts in live sessions to free tickets for attending important OI events, Oi2Lab platform offers a complete experience of the evolution of a novel idea!
Short CV of the Author
Ms. Evdoxia-Eirini Lithoxoidou is a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at University of Sheffield with research field in Artificial Intelligence and Personality Computing. She received her Master of Information and Communication Technologies from International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki in 2013. She received her Bachelor of Informatics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki in 2010. She has been working as a research associate at the Information Technologies Institute of CERTH since November 2015. Her research interests include artificial intelligence, personality psychology, data mining and analysis, visual analytics, machine learning and extraction of useful knowledge. Moreover, she is leading the implementation of a personalized gamification platform.