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Open innovation toolkit for researchers

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Open innovation toolkit for researchers

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The research field has slowly but surely been opening up and becoming more collaborative.  Organisations from a wide range of sectors are now opening up their innovation processes to people outside of their organisation.  GE for instance have ecoMagination and their recent partnership with Quirky.  Lego have their Cuusoo platform.  Darpa are using the crowd to design their latest tank, and so on.

Arguably the most far reaching of these attempts at open innovation occured at Harvard however.  Back in 2010 they began the Harvard Catalyst project, which hosted idea challenges in the medical field, and in particular on diabetes.  The challenge saw 250,000 people produce 150 research ideas that were eventually narrowed down to 12 winners.

For those wishing to jump on the back of this trend and make their own research a more open process, a new report should be of interest.  Produced by the Swedish trio of Lena Holmberg, Bo Norrman and Helen Theander, the document aims to provide a thorough overview of what open innovation is and how it can assist the research profession.

They begin with a journey through the various facets of open innovation, covering crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, open data and so on.  I especially like the part of the report where they discuss some of the obstacles to overcome if open innovation is to thrive, with the foremost amongst these being a cultural one.  They outline various things that are required from the open innovation environment in order for it to thrive:

  1. Mutual trust
  2. Open internal communication
  3. Entrepreneurial behaviour
  4. Multi disciplinary collaboration across organisation and geographic borders
  5. Collaboration with external parties
  6. Necessary resources and tools
  7. Absence of incomprehensive and redundant rules

No doubt these are interesting and valuable things to have in an organisation hoping to be more open and collaborative, but I can’t help but feel that they’re looking at symptoms rather than causes.  It would be nice for the report to have a bit more on how organisations can overcome some of the very real cultural hurdles to achieving open innovation in an environment that has tended to thrive based upon individual (and therefore competitive) endeavours.

Nevertheless, as an introduction to open innovation in the academic world, it does a solid job of outlining the main opportunities for progress in this field.  If this topic is of interest to you it’s well worth a read.  You can access it here.

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