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

The first day of this year’s German flagship conference on Open Innovation in Frankfurt that I set up together with Handelsblatt, the leading German business daily, was on R&D-driven Open Innovation.

12 speeches were made.

Bayer Material Science’s Creative Center presented how they work out 10-year secnarios on the future of plastics and transfer it into the innovation pipeline. Their story has some intesring aspects. Firstly, long-term scenarios are built on market pull, technology push and society demands – the latter based on megatrends such as population growth, urbanization, climate change etc. Working out the scenarios is done in a cross-industry setting such as future_bizz (www.future-bizz.de) One of the scenarios developed is e.g. the “Eco Commercial Building” which is a global program of energy-efficient and economic approach for commercial buildings. This program is already being rolled out.

BASF demonstrated how they use Open Innovation in university collaborations to partnerships along the value chain. BASF now has close to 2,000 R&D co-operations which are part of its “Open Innovation landscape”. In this landscape, one finds currently more than a dozen distinct Open Innovation approaches such as Scouting (via BASF’s Future Business unit, http://www.basf-fb.de/en.html), joint development programs with customers such as Nestlé or Adidas, Joint Ventures with e.g. Dow (remarkably a competitor of BASF in many areas) or Henkel and collaborative platforms such as the Designfabrik (http://bit.ly/ghhxLU).

Henkel showed how cross-industry innovation in the FMCG industry can contribute to the innovation success. Henkel currently has in more than 80% of its innovation projects a significant external contribution. It has set up cross-industry co-operations along the whole value chain, comprising for instance in its detergents business the appliance manufacturers, waste management, raw material suppliers, logistics and retailers. In order to ensure transfer of external knowledge into the organization Henkel is using a collaborative ideation platform and is awarding a “Borrowed With Pride” prize once per year for the best inclusion of external technology and for best open mindedness in the R&D organization.

I myself did a speech on how to achieve Open Innovation culture change in the R&D organization. Based on case evidence on the numerous projects I did in the last years I addressed questions like: What are the key determinants of the Open Innovation culture? What are Key Success Factors for success in Open Innovation Culture Change-programs? What motivates associates in an Open Innovation culture? What does this mean for management and leadership? What exactly is the role of Top Management in these programs? How can middle managers and change agents be won for a successful change?

Philips spoke about “Open Innovation as a balancing act”. Philips Research is one of the world’s largest private research centers and one of Europe’s most respected (according to Research-Technology Management, 2009). Philips sees “Old School innovation” as chess, whereas Open Innovation is more like Poker. To win in this game, Philips has set up a fabric of intertwined inside-out and outside-in Open Innovation initiatives. Two of the most famous are the High Tech Campus Eindhoven, a hotspot for human-focused innovation) and MiPlaza (www.miplaza.com), a R&D shared service center where Philips and other companies are sharing know-how and infrastructure.

Siemens showed how they set up an internal Open Innovation network for crowdsourcing and locating internal expert networks. True, this is not Open Innovation in its purest definition but with some 400,000 associates working in diverse businesses such as power plants and medical imaging Siemens is an Open Innovation microcosmos. The roll-out of this global platform started with a collaborative idea contest on sustainability where more than 850 ideas were collected and commeted. The collaborative internal expert network Siemens is setting up already brought some interesting cross-industry solutions such as computational fluid dynamics being used in commuter trains as well as in laboratory diagnostics.

Deutsche Telekom Laboratories (T-Labs) were giving insight into how they are orchestrating more than a dozen Open Innovation programs. These programs are strategically selected by looking at a matrix with one axis being the maturity stage of the intended innovation and the other one being the application field and the resource commitments necessary. T-Labs has set up co-operations with leading universities and research institutes all over the globe and is developing innovative business models on an open platform called “Developer Garden”.

Merck and InnovationLab shared their insights into how a successful cross-industry / cross-science innovation hub should be set up and managed. I already shared these insights in a previous post (see http://bit.ly/9xXDVc for a link to a 16-page free case study on this).

Vattenfall presented why they are opening up their innovation and what approaches they are pursuing. The energy industry is going through some fundamental changes comprising the production, liberalization and market. For Business Development, Vattenfall is active in fields such as Green eMobility where mobility challenges such as hew battery systems need to be addressed parallel to energy challenges such as grid management and energy storage systems. In solving the questions contained Vattenfall is co-operating with a broad range of players such as Local Authorities, car makers and tier 1 suppliers to the car industry.

Porsche sees Open Innovation as a tool for extending the solution space in solving technical problems. Porsche has a clear view on whre it wants to be First Mover, a fast Follower and a Late Follower. Depending on these categories, Porsche carefully selects Open Innovation initiatives such as integration of lead users, cross-company innovations in technology clusters or cross-industry innovations with companies from other relevant industries.

General Electric gave an insight into how they are orchestrating their Open Innovation initiatives. Their Open Innovation landscape covers the whole value chain and aims at four focal points: Joint build-up of new competences (such as manufacturing technologies for innovative materials), extending existing capabilities (such as miniaturization of process technologies), integration of external technology (e.g. rapid prototyping for innovative materials) and market access for own technologies (such as printed OLEDs).

Zeppelin University presented the results from the study on Open Innovation in Germany they did together with me (see a previous post on this here). Apart from insights such as “What are the key reasons for doing Open Innovation?” or “What are the highest barriers?” Professor Enkel worked out a great insight: Open Innovation activities need to be aligned with the innovation strategy in order to be successful. She showed with statistical relevance that there is a positive correlation of the type of Open Innovation activities pursued and the success of these initiatives based on the innovation strategies of the Open Innovation companies.