All posts by Razi Rima

is Open Innovation really collaborative?

Can we really talk about collaboration when using Open Innovation?

2018 was a busy year for me as an Open Innovation specialist.  I had the opportunity to speak to more than 170 Innovation / Open Innovation Directors in large groups across Europe.

One of my findings was that in most of these organisations, Open Innovation is either already implemented, or in the process of.

In 2017, we were still explaining the concepts, approaches and outcome of OI.  In 2018, for the majority of people met (more than 80%), Open Innovation is no longer an option.

However, the concerns have changed, and raised new questions :

The new concern we have identify is: how does Open Innovation contribute in creating collaboration ?

We see that interest communities, forums and groups have started to appear with collaboration in mind.

Unfortunately, it is difficult today to get value yet from this places, because some fundamentals are not yet settled.

The broker, a central player

Below, I propose my vision for this question, and what could lead to answers.

In 2003 in the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering publication, J. Rankin and C. Lendzion, introduced the term “Innovation Broker”.

The role of the broker in Open Innovation is essential because it is the central point of its opening. His role is  to provide a solution to the seekers

collaborative open innovation

The role of Broker can be handled externally (external consultants) or in-house (for example by ‘Technology Scouts’).

2018 has shown us the rise of in-house Technology scouting, which involves the creation of new position and skills. Companies like Safran created a dedicated Brokers team

In Open Innovation, multiple collaboration is possible

Internal collaboration (seeker-seeker) 

This collaboration, looks abvious, should be promoted before making “external” innovation. It remains very difficult to implement. because identifying the right internal expert within large groups is challenging. Some companies like Schneiner Electric decided to promote internal expertise within Open Innovation tools

The seeker’s external collaboration

This collaboration now raises many questions about confidentiality, and especially the seeker’s skills in handling negotiations / contracts as he is more appreciated for his technical skills.

This does not exclude the seeker from using collective intelligence for purposes other than problem solving, as shown in Article An example of state-of-the-art using open innovation.

This external collaboration therefore rather goes through the broker whose role is to identify potential partners and to build a collaborative ecosystem around the company’s strategic research programs.

A collaboration between brokers in a group

This kind of collaboration goes through a network or a internal community.

Today, this is the focal point of Open Innovation deployment : How to ensure internal Brokers collaborate together  ? How to ensure that information flows ? How to make sure there is no redundant contacts ? How to make sure that an outside solution is not already found elsewhere in the organization ?

A collaboration between brokers from different companies

This collaboration goes through a bigger cultural change. Whether it is a classic version of “community” or more modern type “Platform”, People are not yet ready for it

Collaborative Open Innovation, soon a reality? 

In conclusion, talking about collaboration between brokers from different companies, while the majority of  the corporate I met are having a hard time getting their teams to collaborate internally, is very futuristic.

Many obstacles prevent brokers from different companies to share information :

  • Confidentiality
  • Intellectual Property Management
  • Cost sharing
  • Divergence of points of view
  • Management support
  • R&D teams involvement

We are slowly getting there. After a first step in 2018 which consisted of moving toward Open Innovation, 2019 will be the milestone  that will bring ( or not!) confidence that OI can delver its promesses.

Collaborative years will probably arrive starting from 2020-2021.

Finally to answer the initial question: No! Open Innovation is not yet collaborative, but with changes in the mindsets, and culture, in the near future collaboration, Broker will play an important rôle in making it happen

By offering a collaborative and connected platform on the industrial and academic world, ideXlab offers the reference solution to innovate.

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[Guide] Which Open Innovation models to consider?

Open Innovation models – which approach to choose for implementation?

Open Innovation becomes a remedy when an answer to a technological or scientific question can not be found internally in a company, when outsourcing the answer or the solution is the best way to go. But what are the best Open Innovation models for finding this external solution?

One can think of many commonly cited practices such as using specialized consultants, setting up a technology watch or scouting team, participating in specialized conferences to meet specialists, using an Open Innovation platform (but which one ?), use his professional social network or simply use his favorite search engine … All these solutions are good, the choice of the most effective solution will depend on the context.

3 questions to take the right decision

To make the right decision, you will have to answer three questions (in this order):

  • Do we really need outside help?
  • Is our budget limited?
  • Are deadlines tight?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you can already consider using an Open Innovation platform !

Do we really need outside help?

If the answer to the first question is negative, it is because internal resources are competent and available. No reason to go elsewhere, except of course if a second opinion or an external alternative can bring value.

Is our budget limited?

If your budget is not limited (second question), the best option is probably to call on a firm of innovation consultants you trust. You will enjoy a quality service, probably fast enough. On the other hand, they protect their know-how (there will be no transfer of skills, so next time it will be necessary to solicit them again) and the cost will be high. Setting up a scouting team can be a good alternative if the volume of projects is important, but it will take time.

Are deadlines tight?

If your budget is limited but you have time (third question), crowdsourcing platforms are interesting: they can generate many options at reasonable cost, sometimes very original ones. However, they also cause internal costs that can become important when sorting and evaluating ideas. And the result is not guaranteed, it is better that your problem is not too complex. Using your social network is also interesting, but for a random result: what is the quality of your network in the topic of interest ? There remains the classic search engines: everything is probably there, but rarely what you are looking for when it comes to innovation, or without guarantee to have come across the best result. They are simply not designed for innovation issues and are likely to be … a waste of time.

Finally, if the answers to all the questions above are positive: need of help, limited budget, tight deadlines, an Open Innovation platform like the one we have developed has important advantages: it will allow a real appropriation of the competency in Open Innovation, guided by the tool. It guarantees a controlled number of results from collective intelligence. And of course it responds to imperatives of limited costs and time, and will be more effective as the number of projects increases.


In this Guide below, you will discover the list of options to consider, their pros and cons, how to choose the best Open Innovation models for your company, and a practical way forward.

open innovation models guide