The role of open innovation intermediaries

One aspect that differenciates Open Innovation from other innovation management approaches is the emergence of innovation intermediaries.

While we observed the involvement of intermediary actors in situations such as technology alliances, we now see these intermediaries taking part in the innovation strategies of many companies. The borders of the latter being less permeable as communication means evolve, an intermediaries market could emerge. It quickly specialized in supporting innovative projects by providing consulting, contacts, market opportunities etc… These Open Innovation intermediaries fulfill several functions that we review in this article.

Connect businesses with active communities through the Web

Many innovation intermediaries are focused on crowdsourcing. One of the precursors : “InnoCentive” is dedicated to sourcing ideas and solutions for the pharmaceutical and biomedical sectors. It connects the business with researchers, experts or academics subscribed to the site and who can provide solutions to R&D problems published. Acting as a broker in the exchange process, they allow people or labs with applicable technologies or know-how to be rewarded by companies who can benefit from it. By improving the efficiency in the exchanges between actors, these platforms provide a real and new added value.

Identify the right experts to answer a specific problem of innovation

Some open innovation intermediaries are specialized in “experts mapping”. They apply a different method and rather than exposing the company question to their suscriber base, they actively search for the best experts and communities having a proven track records in the field.  This is the case of ideXlab, which created a dedicated knowledge and experts search engine. By facilitating the search for experts in very specific domains, Idexlab allows companies with limited resources to focus their efforts and quickly find the required skills.

Create new partnerships

As, for example, the “Luxembourg Cluster Initiative” does but also many other technology clusters in most countries, some local or national body form a platform for creating partnerships between companies and the research community. They may provide facilities, projects funding and have a dedicated team with a mission to support the creation of a local ecosystem. Most of them have the secret dream of being the next “Silicon Valley”.

Support the creation of new products

To foster creativity in the design or repositioning of a product, a brand or a packaging, some innovation intermediaries will mobilize the primary stakeholders: the consumers. This is the case of ideaconnection, or eyeka a startup which allows companies to file a brief online with their request and involve consumers to contribute and submit responses to this brief. This service is used to rethink a product, create a new concept or a new design. Whether consulting firms or marketplaces, innovation intermediaries have different roles and can resolve various critical issues for businesses. By saving time and resources identifying new opportunities or solution, the innovation intermediaries can provide real competitive advantages and become a must for innovative companies. To go further, check out our Study on Open Innovation Platforms.

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