Open Innovation and Co-Creation

We met Margaret Gold, one of the founders of the Mobile Collective, on a bright sunny London morning. It was really exciting to find out first hand about the Co-creative events they have been organising in the city. Together with the Open Knowledge Foundation, they organised Science Hackday London which looked at collaborative tools for citizen science. The event brought together the leading figures in citizen science from academic to developer to volunteer for three days of knowledge sharing, inspiration, and hands-on development. In the past they have organised mHealth focused on the opportunities for mobile innovation in the healthcare industry and brought together a good mix of GPs, healthcare practitioners, medical community members, mobile develepors, and technologists. What Margaret is trying to pioneer is part of a larger change in our society as we get more connected, information gets less exclusive and expertise gets more distributed.

Experts use the term Open Innovation, which is quite a huge sea change from the old way of corporate R&D based innovation. In a heavily networked world with ever-shortening product and service lifecycle, both small and large companies are beginning to see the need to involve people outside their organization in an effort to innovate and remain relevant. C. K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy are usually given credit for bringing co-creation to the minds of those in the business community with the 2004 publication of their book, The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. They propose:“The meaning of value and the process of value creation are rapidly shifting from a product- and firm-centric view to personalized consumer experiences. Informed, networked, empowered and active consumers are increasingly co-creating value with the firm.” Last year Samsung announced the launch of a new Open Innovation Center in Silicon Valley with an aim of connecting the conglomerate with the latest and greatest software ideas through startups.

Looking at some success stories in the recent past:

FedEx: Working with external medical staff and suppliers, FedEx developed a sophisticated logistics technology that manages key variables like location, temperature and pressure. to ensure on-time, zero-defect delivery of live tissues for organ donation.

General Electric (GE): GE, government officials and customers collaborated at a shared innovation centre to develop a new water filtration system that reduced water consumption while extracting Alberta’s heavy oil in an environmentally friendly, low-cost way

Anheuser-Busch (AB):– The world’s leading brewer, AB combined a competition between company-brewmasters with 25,000 consumer-collaborators doing the tastings leading to the development of Black Crown, a golden amber lager, a brand more attuned to craft-beer tastes ,

Nokia: Nokia’s Ideasproject focuses on consumer-derived collaboration across 210 nations to improve the viability of Nokia products in all markets.

Co-creation is a collaborative initiative that operates like crowdsourcing by seeking information and ideas from a group of people. But there is one crucial difference: With co-creation, the call is not put to an open forum or platform but to a smaller group of individuals with specialized skills and talents. The result is less crowd noise and less chaos. With co-creation, companies can automate and track some processes while still getting creative ideas.

According to Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive (one of the largest and most successful open innovation platforms), startups can use open innovation to get to market faster, lower costs and improve overall utility to their clients. Precyse Technologies, a firm that specializes in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, received solutions from more than 500 problem solvers from 64 countries to improve the performance and battery life of its mobile computing products within 90 days.

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