Lazio Region has been promoting an Open Innovation strategy. The goal is to create collaboration paths between medium/large companies, startups and innovators.
Open Innovation is a systematic approach to engage and channel public/private resources to find solutions for specific business opportunities and needs.
As a facilitator, in 2015, Lazio Innova launched the first Open Innovation Challenge with the aim of supporting the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem (from large corporates to startups and talents) by offering the entire range of services required to ease either the innovation process for Large Corporates and the scale-up for startups.
The approach can be summarized in the following steps:

● Raise awareness of Large Corporates on the importance of open innovation and collaboration with startups;
● Guarantee open call for expression of interest of large/medium corporates to launch a challenge (expression of interest);
● Facilitate the open innovation assessment of Large Corporates through a team of experts from Lazio Innova;
● Leverage the Lazio startup ecosystem disseminating and promoting the large corporates needs (open innovation startup recruitment);
● Engage public financial resources to facilitate the challenge (i.e. mentoring, prize award) (open innovation public resources);
● Leverage private resources (sponsor corporate additional prizes – i.e. internship, additional prize money, experts human resources ..) (Open innovation leveraging private resources).

Resources needed

Minimum budget is 20K€ for a single Open Innovation Challenge. It must include:
● Expert mentors facilitating startup-large corporate relationship;
● Prize award;
● Internal staff:4 full time staff;
● Promotion, dissemination and final event.

Evidence of success

● 9 Open Innovation Challenges with Large corporates;
● 54 startups involved in the Open Innovation process;
● 116 innovation proposal received from Startups;
● 7 commercial agreements signed between Large Corporates and Startups.

Difficulties encountered

● In young ecosystems, the entire open innovation process has to be guided.
● It’s absolutely crucial to study local vertical markets, as well as align with them and invest in them.
● Cross-contamination among ecosystem’s partners will bring benefits for a long-term growth.

Potential for learning or transfer

The Open Innovation Challenge has been conceived to be easily replicable with very few exceptions. The methodology was defined in steps easy to implement. Two pre-requisites are essential in supporting the execution of the program:
1) A long and deep process with the large company for the definition of the needs (technological, marketing..) to launch the challenge. In this respect many methodologies can be applied (design thinking, world cafè, 1to1 meetings, assessments..). Lazio Innova adopts 1to1 and assessment meetings to identify the problems to start the procedure;
2) Identification of the different cooperation agreement between startups and large corporates (commercial agreement, public procurement, R&D cooperation..) to guarantee the best results for the program.
Key partners: Accelerators, Universities and Incubators promoting information and support to Startups; Industrial Association supporting Open Innovation methodology in Large Corporates; Regional Government

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Main institution
Lazio Innova SpA
Start Date
January 2015
End Date


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