top of page

Open Innovation: definition and how to do it

What is Open Innovation? This concept created by Henry Chesbrough goes against the idea and the mindset that innovation must stay in the company. In fact, it is very likely that you will find very smart and skilled people out there with the necessary resources to develop ambitious projects. Today we came to prove to you that creativity does not necessarily have to be left to employees alone. In this small guide, made by our Head of Open Innovation, Tomé Canas, you will discover what this popular term is about, and why is it so important nowadays.

We could start by explaining the several theoretical and academic definitions of Open Innovation. But, according to Tomé, we can put it in simple words: working and innovating with the outside world of your company.

The next main question is: why is it important?

There’s no doubt that Open Innovation and Open Innovation programs are becoming trendy. The use of open innovation methods and techniques is becoming popular among organizations for several reasons. The biggest advantage is, of course, the possibility to have ideas that come from the outside of the organization. But we can also talk about the possibility to decrease the costs of research & development, by involving external partners, or the possibility to decrease or to share the risks and responsibilities. Another advantage has to do with expertise. Companies tend to focus on their main competence and end up not seeing beyond that. So, when you decide to build a new project, maybe it’s not a bad idea to include people or other companies with different knowledge and different expertise. This can open many doors.

For those who are considering entering the world of open innovation, Tomé gives you 2 main tips.

1. Diagnosis

One of the first steps of creating open innovation is to make a diagnosis to understand why you want to work with external partners, what are the skills that are missing in your company and what ideas and sectors you want to work in.

2. Baby steps

One important advice is to have a process to work with outside partners. A process to protect your intellectual property, to have agreements… You can start with baby steps, instead of beginning with a big new project. For example, you can have a small research & development project with a local university. Tomé compares this process to marriage: It starts with a small relationship, where you know each other, where you discover the way your partner works, and where you talk about your different goals. “This is the dating phase. Once you have some commitments, you will think about marriage”, says Tomé. Remember that marriage is for life, so make sure you have a strong relationship with your partner and try to develop projects that have benefits for both parts.

At BGI we are developing several initiatives in this area. Our goal is to work with companies with a defined goal and provide them our network of startups to create partnerships. We build the bridge for corporations and startups to create innovation and achieve success!

Discover our programs here.

Also read: The future of urban mobility in Portugal | BGI