The term ‘open innovation’ became popular thanks to Henry Chesbrough, CEO at the Open Innovation Center at Berkeley University, and his book ‘Open Innovation – The new imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology”, which can be summarized in the following quote: Open innovation assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market (…) Valuable ideas can come from inside or outside the company and can go to market from inside or outside the company as well.
Open innovation is a new management tool that considers innovation as an open system where both internal and external players participate in the innovation process and improve the competitive possibilities of the organization. The key to successfully accomplish open innovation is openness, collaboration, and creativity. New ideas do not always come from within the company, they can be generated collaboratively by external organizations and individuals.
In this article, you can find five different open innovation examples that successfully solved several real-life challenges, using ideas and information coming from outside the organizations.
Open Innovation Examples that prove that it is possible to solve challenges collaboratively
An IoT Solution for Fire Detection in the Woods
As global temperatures get hotter every year, wildfires are also getting worse, especially in dry forest areas. In order to improve the early detection of fires in the woods, Cellnex Telecom, the main independent infrastructure operator for wireless telecommunication in Europe, launched a collaborative challenge to solve this issue.
Cellnex partnered with ennomotive to organize an engineering competition that resulted in two fully new IoT-based prototypes for early detection of fire. In less than 2 months, 36 engineers from 18 different countries submitted solutions for this challenge, now to be tested in a controlled forest environment.
Manufacturing automation: Heavy tubes handling in paper manufacturing
We would all agree that no worker should lift heavier loads than 25 kg since it is both harmful and physically exhausting. For this reason, the company Forsac, a subsidiary of Empresas CMPC, one of the biggest forestry and paper companies in the world, decided to look for a solution to automate the lifting of heavy cardboard tubes during its factory operations.
Said operations consisted of picking up the tubes at the end of the manufacturing line, placing them manually in a vertical or horizontal position on the pallet and securing them with tape. The new sought-for system had to be an improvement, not only technical but also cost-saving and cost-efficient, and at the lowest possible investment. Finally, ennomotive managed the open innovation challenge that provided Forsac with a solution that improved efficiency, productivity, operations, investment, and maintenance. The winner was Maksym Gaievskyi, a mechanical engineer from Ukraine.
Circular Economy: Recycling and reusing wood scraps
Masisa, a Latin American manufacturer and distributor of wooden boards, produces different kinds of WPC boards that send to distributors and industrial customers. These boards are cut in repurposable pieces to be used in furniture and other goods, but this piece-cutting process generates waste (scraps and sawdust) that is put to no use. The entirety of the waste is taken to sanitary landfill sites, throwing away its potential value, which translates into an environmental problem and an extra cost for Masisa.
Taking the circular economy as a model, this company wanted to repurpose this wooden waste to manufacture new products and create new sources of income. Ennomotive once again conducted a competition that resulted in the creation of wooden tiles to replace metal roofing in makeshift homes and shacks. This idea was shared by Michael Ankobia, a British-Ghanaian engineer based in London, and the winner of the challenge.
These open innovation examples are great if you only consider engineering but, obviously, in addition to engineering challenges, there are others related to maths or pure science.
Here are a couple of examples of leading companies in Big Data and pharmaceutical industry respectively:
Applying Big Data to differentiate a ship from an iceberg at sea
The Centre for Cold Ocean Resource Engineering (C-CORE) and Norwegian energy company Statoil, posted a collaborative challenge on Kaggle, a website where people compete to deliver the best solutions to a data-related problem. These companies were looking to crowdsource a better way to identify icebergs, posing a risk to people’s lives and oil and gas equipment.
To spot icebergs, offshore oil companies use satellite images to visually try to differentiate icebergs from other objects in the ocean such as ships. C-CORE and Statoil aimed to find approaches they hadn’t explored yet, and they awarded a prize to Weimin Wan and David Austin for delivering the best way to identify icebergs on satellite images that contain thousands of different objects, or targets.
An Open Innovation Challenge to fight neurodegenerative diseases
Three organizations fighting neurodegenerative diseases (Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), ALS Association and Teva Pharmaceuticals) have teamed up to challenge researchers around the world to come up with new treatment approaches for central nervous system (CNS) disorders in an open innovation initiative.
The challenge, developed in collaboration with InnoCentive, calls for researchers worldwide to submit proposals aimed at discovering new therapeutic targets. And will award the best of the competitions.
This open innovation competition has the goal of not only finding new therapeutic targets but also identifying researchers with diverse scientific backgrounds and unique expertise related to the target of interest as potential collaboration partners.
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