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Report from the German flagship conference on Open Innovation

At the end of September, leading Open Innovation practitioners from the German-speaking countries gathered for the annual flagship conference, organized by Germany’s leading business daily, the HANDELSBLATT.

The speaker panels included some of the best firms from the German-speaking countries, including Bayer, Beiersdorf, Deutsche Bank, Nestlé, smatch.com, Volkswagen and Wittenstein (one of Germany’s “hidden champions”). The international perspective on Open Innovation was provided by Cisco, Ford, Google and Procter&Gamble. And, like in last year’s conference, innovation-3 was presenting, being again the only consultant to speak in such an exclusive panel.

innovation-3’s Frank Mattes presented the five key trends that shape the development in German Open Innovation:

  • Increasing Open Innovation maturity – More and more firms leave the phase of experimentation and rationalize/consolidate their various approaches into a strategically based, coherent system that clearly defines in which fields which model of Open Innovation should be applied.
  • Embedding Open Innovation – Firms are spending significant energy in working out how to best embed Open Innovation into their firm’s processes and structures
  • Broadening the internal base – Many firms are investing into educating and training managers and staff about Open Innovation, why / how it is used by the firm and Open Innovation mindsets and skills
  • (Open) Innovation networks – Firms are busy building up external networks (confidential or open, collaborative or competitive) and integrate these with internal networks (sometimes called “Enterprise 2.0”)
  • HR driving Open Innovation – In some firms, HR is actually driving Open Innovation by leveraging its expertise in talent management and organizational development into the firm’s Open Innovation initiatives

Highlights from the other speeches were:

  • Procter&Gamble outlined how they are approaching the next frontier in their connect+develop approach – Science-to-Business, i.e. leveraging the creative potential of universities and research institutes for P&G’s innovation
  • Beiersdorf received the “Best Open Innovator Award” for its proprietary and confidential innovation network Pearlfinder – and presented how this network is set up, managed and developed
  • Cisco showed how their innovation has changed over the last years using state-of-the-art collaborative tools and demoed some of Cisco’s solutions
  • Deutsche Bank provided insights into the development of the networked society
  • Ford showed how Prediction Markets are used in the innovation process
  • Google outlined their mechanisms for fostering innovation
  • Nestlé provided a deep-dive into their “Sharing Is Winning” Open Innovation approach, in particular how they are building up trust in their ecosystem in order to attract the best external co-innovators and how they manage IP issues in Open Innovation
  • Bayer demonstrated how an effective approach to increase the open mindsets, competencies and skills could be designed
  • smatch.com, a subsidiary of the Metro group, illustrated how they are advancing in the dawning era of Social Commerce, i.e. commerce done via or initiated via Social Networks
  • Volkswagen gave a deep insight into how they are using consumer engagement to increase brand awareness / loyalty and to co-design cars with their Chinese customers (have a look at YouTube for “The People’s Car project”