Open innovation describes a decentralised and participatory notion of how ideas are generated and implemented in organisations. It involves moving from ‘closed’ to ‘open’ innovations; in other words, finding ideas outside the boundaries of one’s own organisation. After all, in the 21st century useful knowledge is distributed far beyond organisational boundaries. No matter how large or capable an organisation may be, without input from outside the organisation, renewal processes are less effective and are often restricted by organisational boundaries and knowledge silos. Organisations can use open innovation to address this risk.
An important element of open innovation processes involves ideas competitions, which are used to solve a particular problem with the assistance of the crowd. This type of competition has a long tradition in brainstorming but in the past it was extremely complex and time-consuming. Today, organisations can easily use their own or open online platforms to invite all interested parties worldwide to participate in ideas competitions.
For example, on the OpenIDEO platform, participants from all over the world develop solutions to social problems in an online design thinking process. Three to five-month processes referred to as ‘challenges’ examine a certain social or ecological problem and bring together teams that work collectively to develop solutions. The challenges are initiated and funded by development organisations, companies, foundations, public institutions or associations. Over 16,000 ideas from 185 countries have been submitted and discussed to date.
GIZ example: Call for Solutions (AGE)
GIZ’s Commissioning Parties and Business Development (AGE) Department also uses an open innovation approach in its Call for Solutions programme. The 2018 challenge called for solutions for strengthening shared business opportunities for refugees and their host communities. The teams submitting the selected ideas will be invited to a one-week Innovation Lab in Rwanda, where the solutions will be adapted to local conditions.
GIZ-Beispiel: leverist.de – Do Business. Do Good.
In order to implement innovative business models, the digital platform links development cooperation staff with companies to create concrete business opportunities. Project managers on site identify business ideas and make them visible to companies. If companies are interested, they can contact the project managers via the platform. After an initial meeting, synergies can be identified. Thereby, collaborations with the private sector are initiated in an uncomplicated way, innovative business models are successfully implemented and new impulses for development cooperation are set.