Moonshot _ 22
quantum leap innovations
The concept of ‘open innovation’ was developed at the beginning of the 20th century by the US scientist Henry Chesbrough. His idea: By opening up their innovation processes, organisations and companies are able to use external innovation drivers in addition to internal ones – for example in the form of knowledge, ideas and capacities. In this way, necessary innovation cycles can be significantly accelerated. The counter-model is the practice of ‘closed innovation’, which was widespread until the beginning of the 20th century and whose most important principle was the exclusivity of the acquired knowledge.
For us as a company, the concept of ‘open innovation’ is not new. In the search for new ways and in the development of new products, innovation cooperations with third parties have been a natural part of our everyday life for many years. One of the reasons for this is that, compared to research-intensive life science groups in the healthcare sector, we can only survive by acting faster, more flexibly and more openly than our competitors.
With our moonshots, we are now going a big step further. This applies in particular to Moonshot #2 “The end of chronic diseases”. We know that we can only solve the world’s problems if we, as part of a global ecosystem, embrace open innovation with a clear commitment to a citizen science quantum leap.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Crossing borders as an innovation strategy
The speed of market change and the pressure to innovate are increasing all the time. Only those who look far beyond their own horizons today can produce and drive innovations at the necessary speed. The openness and flexibility of individuals within the organization are decisive factors in this: To what extent are they able to cooperate with external partners who have unusual ways of thinking and acting?
After all, innovation always has to do with crossing boundaries. Anyone attempting something new today not only has to leave their familiar terrain, but perhaps even cross the boundaries between markets. It is precisely in the area of tension between disruptive technologies and established markets that the markets of the future emerge. In the innovation processes required for this, the cooperation of companies and partners is becoming increasingly important. The coming together of many creative minds gives open innovation its special power and drives it to top performance.
More energy for the vision
A particular strength of successful medium-sized companies lies in their innovative power. Many SMEs are world market leaders in their field, so-called hidden champions – because they consistently develop their products, their technology and their business. However, when it comes to taking unconventional paths or opening up new fields of business, the typical SME tends to be reluctant. With this behavior, they run the risk that disruptive innovations will displace their existing products, services or technologies. According to US economist Gary Hamel: “The main reason why companies fail is that they invest excessively in what is – and not in what could be.
Managing Open Innovation initiatives
The success of an Open Innovation initiative can be measured by various indicators. These include the number of ideas generated, the turnover of newly developed products and the cost advantage of new processes. However, determining the exact share of the various partners in certain innovations is usually difficult. Especially when partners of different sizes work together, different perceptions and imbalances can quickly arise. This becomes a problem for many companies at the latest when they have to evaluate the ROI of their Open Innovation efforts.
When it comes to answering big questions (Moonshot #2 “The End of Chronic Disease”), the organizations involved must step back and become part of a larger ecosystem. This is an immense challenge in times in which organizations are not only connected to each other through complex networks of relationships, but are also integrated into dynamic social and market structures. For such an Open Innovation initiative to be successful, the leading organization must assume the role of coordinator and mediator – for example, between employees or scientific teams, suppliers or customers. If the effort and costs involved in coordinating several external partnerships exceed the benefits, the limit of value creation is reached. What innovative approaches are there to solve the challenges outlined above quickly and efficiently?
work in progress…