Time to speed up Open Innovation practices and research in Europe!
Prof. dr. Wim Vanhaverbeke – July 2006
Three years ago Open Innovation was still a new concept. Although R&D cooperation between organizations was not new, Henry Chesbrough's pathbreaking approach called for very different organizing principles for managing research and innovation. useful knowledge makes such control unfeasible. Creating competitive advantage is no longer derived from internal competencies only: it increasingly comes from leveraging the discoveries of others using a viable business model to successfully commercialize them.
Everyone interested in open Innovations have been reading the innovation processes and OI-practices of Xerox, IBM, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Lucent, Merck, and other US-based companies. The same documentation doesn't exist for European companies, although it's my experience – and that of many others – that a broad range of companies of different sizes and in different industries are have developed leading edge OI-practices over time. Companies like Philips, BASF, BMW, DSM, Unilever, Henkel, etc... are known for their OI-practices but there are many more, interesting companies that have to tell us a lot about how to get organized to benefit from Open Innovation. It's about time to get these stories and insights at the surface.
My experience is that there are even many more European firms are still struggling building their relational capital and restructuring internal innovation processes to capture the business potential of externally developed technology. There is a growing need to translate best OI-practices into teaching cases, practical management instruments and evaluation tools. Managers discover sooner or later that Open innovation requires different organizational capabilities and management approaches. We are developing these frameworks, cases and management tools in a truly OI-fashion with researchers from Haas school of Business - UC berkeley, Rotterdam School of Management, Eindhoven University of Technology and University of St-Gallen. Other universities will join the network as it gradually expands.
Open Innovation is also making inroads into academic research as it provides new opportunities to improve our understanding of managing innovation. In 2005, Laursen and Salter analyzed in a SMJ-article how open search strategies that involve the use of a wide range of external actors and sources help firms to achieve and sustain innovation. I also had the pleasure to publish an edited volume "Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm" with Henry Chesbrough and Joel West about the research implications of the OI-paradigm.
This new website should bring OI-practitioners and researchers in Europe together to cope successfully with the management and research challenges. It's part of a broader, worldwide network about Open Innovation. The European OI-website can also connect to national sites (e.g. www.openinnovatie.nl) about OI offering them a better visibility.
This site is still under construction, but it gives already a flavor of the different products we are offering. I strongly advice you to visit the site regularly since new initiatives will be developed within the next months. Among other initiatives we intend to develop an online OI-scan, establish a Forum for leading European firms, organize (customized) seminars and summer courses, and announce of major events. The most appropriate way to keep informed is to subscribe to the electronic newsletter.
It would be highly inefficient when companies implement OI practices in a stand-alone fashion. Therefore, the establishment of an European OI-community can significantly accelerate the diffusion of OI-practices and improve our understanding of OI as a management practices. Sharing ideas and best practices within an open community can help each one of us. www.openinnovation.eu is a first step in that direction.