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Open innovation reorganizes processes

Published: 7 December 2012

Luleå University of Technology has been granted 1.95 million SEK from Ragnar Söderberg Foundation for a three-year research project that will help the Swedish industry to develop, manage and control open innovation processes, and increase firm profitability.

Many companies find it difficult to implement innovation processes, i.e. to gradually take an idea to a finished product. They often lack the tools and methods to do it in a time-and cost-effective manner in which the customer is in focus. The current project allows researchers at the Division of Innovation and Design at LTU to study the models that can resolve the problem.

– Innovation processes have gone from closed to open. A closed innovation process means that a company performs all development activities itself. In an open innovation process, the company collaborates with different actors at different stages, explains Johan Frishammar, project manager and professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at LTU.

In open innovation processes, ideas and knowledge can both flow in and out of the company. It is for example possible to commercialize an idea that might not fit the company, instead of throwing it away.

Risk and uncertainty versus economic effort

The research will focus on how the principles of open innovation can be integrated with the so-called Stage-Gate models, the model that virtually all companies use to structure their innovation processes. David Rönnberg Sjödin, PhD in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at LTU, will take the main operational responsibility in the project.

– We will work together with leading Swedish technology companies in high-tech industries. I will visit companies to get an idea of ​​how they look at the problem of integrating open innovation with Stage-Gate models, says David Rönnberg Sjödin.

Stage-Gate models is about dividing the innovation process into blocks, such as idea generation, concept development, and technological development. In between are control points that managers and specialists monitors to ensure that the work adheres to the plan.

– In the concept stage, when uncertainty about the product is large, it is about reducing the financial risk. Further into the process increases security, and more money can be wagered. Stage-Gate models is a way to control and monitor industrial innovation processes. Open innovation should be able to make these processes more efficient, concludes Johan Frishammar.