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Operationalising the Concept of Open Innovation with Open Innovation Platforms

By Platform

What is Open Innovation? 

The concept of open innovation is a paradigm that acknowledges the importance of inflows and outflows of ideas and tacit knowledge in the process of innovation (Chesbrough, Vanhaverbeke, and West). Open innovation highlights the importance of external ideas and paths to markets to accelerate the development of technologies and innovations. Indeed, innovative actors cannot solely rely on their own internal resources to innovate but should also explore a wide range of innovative opportunities and exploit them through multiple channels.

What are Open Innovation Platforms (OIPs)

Regional policymakers are creating open innovation platforms (OIPs) to harness and diffuse regional knowledge and ideas with the double objective of promoting inclusive and transparent policymaking while strengthening innovation. OIPs are built around the quadruple helix open innovation model, where “government, industry, academia and civil participants work together to co-create the future and drive structural changes far beyond the scope of what any one organisation or person could do alone” (European Commission). OIPs provide agile co-creation spaces facilitating interactions among research, education and innovation through innovative tools in a bottom-up process to involve users or citizens in the production of services (Raunio, Räsänen, and Kautonen, 2016). 

Operationalising the concept of Open Innovation Platforms 

In the Interreg Europe project TITTAN, which aims to promote healthy and active ageing, Lombardy Region, Italy, has shared its good practice open innovation platform (OIP) with the members of the partnership. 

The open innovation platform was launched by the Lombardy Region in 2015. In 2017, there were over 7000 registered participants, 200 project proposals were submitted receiving 430 expressions of interest, 200 communities were created of which 85 focused on topics related to the regional Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3). 

Pictures of the open innovation plarform of Lombardy region

Figure 1. The open innovation platform of Lombardy Region. 

The open innovation platform provides innovative tools and methodologies and is coordinated by facilitators to support interactions and co-creation on innovation topics among quadruple helix stakeholders. The OIP drives regional structural changes by continuously improving the smart specialisation strategy (S3) through supporting the launch, implementation, and communication of research and innovation projects. The open innovation platform focuses on 4 objectives:

  • Continuous identification and involvement of innovative actors to face the technology challenges
  • Continuous recognition and endorsement of strategic innovation challenges
  • Promotion and implementation of enabling conditions to facilitate the adaptation of innovative actors in rapidly changing technologies and markets
  • Exploitation of R&D projects and initiatives

In the Interreg Europe project MARIE, which aims to align the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) with the S3 concept, the Council of Tampere Region, Finland, brought the good practice Tampere Region Open Innovation Platforms (OIPs). 

Tampere Region Open Innovation Platforms is a programme to support the creation of platforms to foster an open and inclusive culture of innovation. It funds platforms that encourage co-creation through a bottom-up process among different actors—companies-students, companies-universities, and triple helix stakeholders. The OECD has selected the case of Tampere Region OIPs to illustrate that open innovation platforms have for value proposition, “to engage a much broader knowledge base for innovation activities while offering the “city as a living lab” and user-oriented open innovation services for the use of firms and other actors (clients)”.

Diagram of Tampere Region Open Innovation Platforms service categories

Figure 2. Platform service categories. Source: Handbook on Open Innovation Platforms (OIPs): and Approach to City Development. 

As an example of a platform promoted in Tampere Region Open Innovation Platforms, Demola connects leading companies and students through innovation challenges, and it has contributed to the creation of 135 new jobs, connecting 180 companies and more than 500 people involved in projects. 

Pictures collage of example of Innovation Challenges for Students

Figure 3. Example of Innovation Challenges for Students. Source: Demola 

The two Open Innovation Platforms:  inspiration for policy change

The lead partner of MARIE, the Agency of the Chamber of Commerce (CISE) of Forlì-Cesena, Italy, was inspired by the Tampere Region open innovation platforms to devise a policy improvement by including responsible innovation among the strategic objectives of the Chamber of Commerce of Romagna for 2020-2022. The lead partner was inspired from:

  • Koklaamo and Demola (Tampere) that are innovation platforms bringing together quadruple helix stakeholders to co-create and experiment new solutions to specific challenges;
  • Innovation Café (Bucharest-Ilfov) that creates a framework for cooperation and for sharing experience among quadruple-helix innovation actors. 

Koklaamo and Demola supported CISE to stress the importance of public leadership and to reinforce linkages between research and industry around solving common challenges with third party coordination. Innovation Café was applied by CISE to create and build an open innovation community. 

In the Interreg Europe project RUMORE, which aims to reinforce rural-urban linkages, the project partner Region of Central Macedonia was inspired by three good practices of Lombardy region to  introduce a policy improvement that focuses on reorganising the functionality of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Mechanism and the One Stop Liaison Office (OSLO): the open innovation platform, OpenAgri (Open Innovation Hub on Peri-Urban Agriculture), and Controlled DNA. In particular, the open innovation platform allowed the Region of Central Macedonia to understand the importance of open and inclusive partnership instruments to bring together stakeholders to face strategic challenges as well as specific tools and methodologies for the provision of digital services. 

Read online the good practice Tampere Region Open Innovation Platforms (OIP).

Read online the good practice Open Innovation Platform (OIP) of the Lombardy Region.

Image credit: Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels