Innovation through collaboration

Open innovation embraces the idea that there are a lot of clever people doing clever stuff outside your own company.

Think about it: To stay ahead of the competition, we need to be number one at leveraging new technologies and products that increase value for our customers. We also need to anticipate and lead the way for new trends and innovations. We cannot achieve that goal by trying to do everything by ourselves. We need the expertise of suppliers, customers and partners to bring new ideas and solutions. By creating this space for external collaboration, open innovation accelerates research and product development efforts that will grow your business.

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Open innovation: concept and key benefits

The main concept of open innovation is a radical departure from the traditional model of closed, in-house innovation. Open innovation embraces the idea that there are a lot of clever people doing clever stuff outside your own company. Tapping into that potential increases the effectiveness of innovation efforts by allowing the company and individuals to concentrate on things where they excel, while opening new outlets for R&D efforts alongside the company’s own business goals.

The two key benefits of using open innovation are speed and the ability to capitalize on knowledge and labour regardless of where it resides. Open innovation fosters a faster exchange of ideas through innovation action networks and shared development. In addition, open innovation could be the best way to address knowledge and labour limitations.

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Openness, collaboration and communication

Successful open innovation is all about multidimensional collaboration. This means simultaneous downstream collaboration with retailers and customers, upstream collaboration with vendors, horizontal collaboration internally, and collaboration with other ecosystem partners as well as with outside communities of common interest, including freelance experts and academicians.

Getting to market faster is the name of the game. Innovation intermediaries such as NineSigma, InnoCentive and IdeaConnection play a big role in rapidly achieving success and increasing your open innovation capability—regardless of where you are today. These open innovation services help public, private and non-profit organizations “connect efficiently with the world” to find and develop new solutions, products, knowledge and partners that will accelerate and improve their innovation cycle.

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A matter of corporate culture

Every company is unique and must define what level of involvement and approach to open innovation will best fit its specific needs. We cannot simply copy another company’s approach. What we also know is that, without a significant cultural shift, open innovation too often remains within the internal R&D domain, focusing heavily on technical problems.

Setting everything in motion with a strategy and learning through experimenting how to gradually make open innovation part of our culture are wise steps to take in order to achieve our highest goals!

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About the Author
Islem Yezza

Islem Yezza is a Technical Business Development Director at Cascades. He has worked both in academic and private sectors, notably he occupied the position of R&D manager of an international flexible packaging Group. He earned his PhD in bioprocess engineering from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS). After graduating, NSERC awarded him a post-doctoral fellowship at the Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI-NRC). One major achievement of his research: the development of an innovative process for the production of biopolymer using maple sap as feedstock, for which he obtained a patent. Islem published regularly peer-reviewed papers and made contributions to national and international conferences. He has given several interviews in different media as a specialist in sustainable and smart packaging.

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