The rise of the Open Innovators: a look back at the Innovation Convention 2014

An article published by European Commission on 19 March 2014

Based on the discussions during the fringe session Killing the European Zombies and Raising the Open Innovators organised by the Big Innovation Centre


Through different initiatives and policies the European Commission is trying to tackle the economic crisis in Europe aiming at creating more jobs and growth in the continent. The adoption of the Open Innovation model and outlook will enable multinational corporations to engage with networks of SMEs, research facilities, entrepreneurs, and the citizens.

n that context, the Innovation Convention 2014 was an excellent forum to interact and discuss further on the measures and impact of innovation with the active innovation community. It is important that we also put an emphasis on the repeated message from the high political level during the event: The solution for growth and well-being is innovation. However, as an overall impression of the event , is that Open Innovation was mostly discussed during the Fringe sessions.

We need to complement the traditional science based innovation with open innovation best practises, to evolve our innovation systems even further, to capture the whole potential of the European strength: research, advanced industries, and especially people, our most valuable and quite unique asset. New, open approaches to collaboration are already driving new ways of innovating.

Triple helix, public sector, industry and academia collaboration was mentioned in many speeches, but in Europe we need to do better, to move with the quadruple helix innovation model involving the citizens as active players to modern innovation ecosystem thinking. This was clearly highlighted e.g. in the session “ Killing the European Zombies and Raising the Open Innovators ” organised by the Big Innovation Center.

During the session the very diverse Intellectual Property Systems within the EU was highlighted by Birgitte Andersen as one of the main obstacles of innovation in general. With a different licencing model in every member state, it is impossible to figure out a general principle regarding what one legally can do with intellectual content. According to Andersen, the British “fair-use-model” in the patent system seems to be the good-practice-model that meets the IP-requirements caused by the new media best. One can question also how to put co-creation by citizens in the big picture of modern IPR.

Liam Byrne for his part put the open innovation in a historical and global context: Scientists cooperating with industrialists turned out to be a quite successful concept throughout the history. Within today’s globalized world, what is needed are global networks, on the one hand to organize global money, on the other hand to get connected with the raising science powers in Asia.

The network-aspect was pursued by Martin Curley, OISPG Chair (Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group). He emphasized the assets of the Quadruple Helix Model which bring users, firms, universities and public authorities together to generate the best possible outcome. He underlined the importance of co-innovation to be able to go faster as well as people’s participation – according to the experiences he shared, people are already very keen on participating in the innovation process. Curley put the very essence of open innovation in a nutshell by explaining that you no longer need to be a genius scientist to move the world. You have to be innovative and you have to include the groups of people that are concerned by you product.

The good news is that Horizon 2020 Program is gradually opening up towards the open innovation approaches and models, because success will depend on investment in research, technologies, new infrastructure and institutions. But it will also require leadership, collective action and open innovation to exploit the opportunities presented by new general purpose technologies.

In June in Dublin we will dig deeper into these topics and discuss the advantages, but also the drawbacks, if any. The XXV ISPIM Innovation Conference back to back with the Open Innovation 2.0 Conference will focus on innovation for sustainable societies, business models, entrepreneurship, and financing innovation, living labs, methods  and measurement of innovation, transferring knowledge for innovation, etc. We expect to see you all in Dublin! Registration will open soon!

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