June 12, 2015
Guest blog post by Bror Salmelin, Adviser Innovation Systems to the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology of the European Commission
Open Innovation 2.0 is the new innovation space for creativity. It replaces the traditional triple helix innovation model with enterprises, research and public sector players with the co-creative quadruple helix innovation model where users have an active role, too, from the early ideation to the co-creation of solutions. Catalysing the creativity with power of crowds together with experimentation and prototyping might be a solution for better and even radical solutions.
The innovation ecosystems are breaking from the past linear innovation model towards a mash-up process. Creating engagement platforms in different product and services areas helps approaching a zero marginal cost for innovation and lowering significantly the barrier of entrepreneurship.
One of the new trends is also crowdsourcing (beyond crowdfunding). But what is the role of experts in developing, filtering and selecting solutions to be prototyped? Will we be led by amateurs, i.e. the synthesis of the crowd opinion? The answer is no, if the process is right and we drive a variety of different experiments to see how they work in real world. Hence what we need is to elaborate more on the new innovation space with bridgers and curators.
New Professions: Curators and Bridgers
When looking at the connectors in the new ecosystems we clearly can identify changed skills profiles. The role of persons having deep knowledge on a specific area, the so-called I-shaped persons have an important role in providing exactly that, deep knowledge. What, however, is increasingly needed are the T-shaped skills profiles where experts have not only specific knowledge but also wider contextual perspective to connect the speciality to a wide range of applications.
These new professions can be described as curators and bridgers. Curators focus in maintaining the quality of the contents and enriching it to be used and interlinked by bridgers to other disciplines. Bridgers are socially well connected, extrovert and most importantly inherently interested about “everything”, thus being able to make connections in spontaneous and unusual ways.
Our curricula do not recognise these new skills yet. Where do we train these kinds of people, and more importantly how do we find them?
Discovery of Valuable Ideas by Crowds
It is shown that if experts are asked for a solution for a problem, there is good convergence of the ideas and the value of the idea is relatively good. If asked from a crowd it is not unexpected that the answers have a very wide spectrum, and that the peak is not necessarily at the same place as those of the experts (Figure 1).
What, however, is interesting is that very high value discoveries are more numerous in the answers of the crowd, indicating a new innovation space. Nevertheless, a key question prevails: how to extract from those the high-value ones and not invest in the mediocre or low value ideas?
Open innovation 2.0 approach can again be extremely valuable as bringing those ideas at a very early stage via rapid prototyping (after initial screening) to the real world acid test. Experimenting in nearly zero marginal cost environments with the real users, taking their feedback in co-creation mode means a safety net for even the craziest ideas. Only doable and scalable ideas move up in innovation value. Others can be killed with relatively low cost and high confidence at very early stages.
The innovation ecosystems have also different rewarding mechanisms than only monetary. It can be recognition in the community, in the area, orchestration responsibilities etc., all based on gaining reputation. This new innovation ecosystem is self-directed and it is based on common interest of all actors in the quadruple helix to discover the unexpected.
Open Innovation 2.0 is a promising a new paradigm for Europe. It drives for new approaches having all the stakeholders involved from the first beginning, and it advocates for searching the unexpected. I am very happy to see that in developing new innovation policy and instruments, this approach is seriously coming into consideration, as the response to modern innovation dynamics is increasingly becoming critical.
New open innovation ecosystems require not only a new mindset, but also engaging the stakeholders to the process and also by enabling infrastructures. The Digital Agenda for Europe and the Single Digital Market are important tools for the scale-up. In addition, we need to have those open innovation hubs practising open innovation in its different forms. For sure, with this engagement of all stakeholders, there is a lot better possibility to capture the best ideas, select the scalable ones and bring prosperity to the whole society.