At the World IP Summit in Amsterdam in October 2018 one of the buzz terms was “open innovation”. The concept is not new. But it seems that more and more global players, such as Facebook, Philips, Lego and Huawei, are effectively using the approach for their benefits. For example, Huawei has established a network of open innovation partners. The partners range from researchers at universities, such as the University of Edinburgh, to larger companies, such as SAP, Intel and Vodafone.
The success speaks for itself: “Thanks to its careful orchestration of the collaborative effort, Huawei was poised to introduce its new technology after just three years—a good two years faster than if the company had developed the technology on its own.”
But what is open innovation?
Henry Chesbrough is the self-acclaimed father of open innovation and defines it as follows: “Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. [This paradigm] assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology.”
In other words, open innovation is an exchange of ideas and knowledge. And the aim of it is to use this transfer of knowledge to drive innovation.
And what about IP?
One may think that open innovation means that companies are giving away their IP rights when they implement this innovative concept. However, this is not the case.
One of the most important aspects of open innovation is how the knowledge transfer is managed. In this regard, it is important to manage what information is suitable for external use. And more importantly when this information is released. The when is crucial as patents need to be filed before an invention is published. This can be diffult to manage especially with universities. For researchers the main goal is to publish their research results in prestigious journals. Therefore, the companies need to set up effective communication tools to avoid that any IP rights are jeopardised.
I am a big supporter of open innovation. It represents an innovative business model which is highly effective in driving innovation and collaboration. If it is managed successfully, open innovation is a great tool to quickly advance your company’s technology. And thus, geting a competitve advantage in the market field.