Report from the flagship conference on Open Innovation in Germany – Part I

On December 02 and 03, 2010 some 100 Open Innovation practitioners gathered for this year’s German flagship conference on Open Innovation in Frankfurt. Together with Handelsblatt, the leading German business daily I designed a program that covered both R&D-driven and customer-facing (crowdsourcing, co-creation) Open Innovation.

Apart from myself, the speaker panel included the leading companies in German Open Innovation such as 3M, Bayer, BASF, DHL, Deutsche Telekom, GE, Henkel, Merck, Osram, Philips, Porsche, Siemens and Vattenfall.

The conference was high-prized and clearly targeted at Top Management. The coneference organizer said that rarely in these types of conferences there is so much energy among the participants. The coffee breaks were almost too short to exchange experiences and to network.

One highlight was the award of the prize „Best Open Innovator 2010“. The laureates were selected as result of a study I conducted throughout 2010 on some 200 German companies which are engaged in Open Innovation. The prize was awarded in four categories:

  • Best corporate
  • Best corporate division
  • Best R&D unit
  • Best SME

Procter&Gamble won the prize as best Open Innovation Corporate. P&G’s Open Innovation approach connect+develop effectively  encourages  and engages all employees in the various forms of Open Innovation. Germany is P&G’s largest R&D hub outside North America with three research sites in the Rhein‐Main area (Kronberg, Darmstadt, and Schwalbach). Germany has a very high value for P&G‘s R&D because of its academic tradition and its close proximity to the German engineering, chemical and other industries. More than 100 Open Innovation projects are currently led out of Germany.

c+d is successfully implemented, measured, and documented throughout the entire P&G organization. The value‐add of open innovation is clearly evident. As an example, the NPV of projects with high open innovation content is 70% higher (average over 5 years) compared with the NPV of projects developed solely internally. Accompanying reward systems, training initiatives, processes and organizational structures are implemented and maintained. P&G’s c+d success stories have been recognized and published throughout the world on a number of occasions.

OSRAM, the lighting division of Siemens, won the prize as best Open Innovation Corporate Division. OSRAM set up a very professional and thought-through Open Innovation concept. This concept is fully implemented and rolled out internally. OSRAM’s system is sophisticated and continually developed with respect to innovation culture, processes, reward systems, electronic platforms and professional cooperation management.

Open Innovation initiatives are led by the strategic innovation management with early involvement of the business units. These initiatives aim at new products for existing business units as well as new business for future business units. OSRAM’s strategic innovation management is a staff function with associates from a multitude of functions. The innovation management is part of the corporate R&D and has its own budget to identify and evaluate early trends that cannot be assigned to a particular business unit yet.

Deutsche Telekom Labs (T-Labs) won the award for the best Open Innovation R&D Unit. T-Labs are researching and developing new products and services in a consistently open approach. Strategic Open Innovation of T-Labs include e.g. the Android mobile phone operating system, open contests for innovative TV via Internet applications, an open developer community called “Developer Garden” and a complete city (Friedrichshafen) with a leap-frog telecommunication infrastructure allowing breakthrough applications such as telemedicine or remote energy metering.

In the spirit of Open Innovation, T-Labs is consequently located on the premises of the Technical University of Berlin. Apart from Berlin, T-Labs has R&D hubs in Darmstadt and the Silicon Valley and a close co-operation with a large number of universities, in particular with the Ben-Gurion University in Tel Aviv.

Schmitz-Werke won the award for the best Open Innovation SME. Schmitz-Werke is producing speciality indoor textiles, outdoor textiles and awnings. Products of the Schmitz-Werke possess e.g. fast-reacting surfaces neutralizing bad odors or harmful substances. Customer industries include interior design, automotive and medical.

Schmitz-Werke’s is currently doing 40 per cent of its R&D projects with an Open Innovation approach and aims at increasing this figure significantly in the next years. Of particular interest to Schmitz-Werke are Open Innovation co-operations with other companies since the regularly yield breakthrough, radical innovations to the market.