5 Organizations Changing the World With Open Innovation

businesswoman pointing at laptop with coworkers at desk in creative office

Think of open innovation as decentralized innovation: You're tapping external talent to solve real-world problems.                                                   

Carter Liebscher|
February 20, 2020

Think of open innovation as a decentralized version of innovation. Rather than—or in addition to—an organization tapping internal talent for innovative ideas, they open their doors for external help for the challenges they’re experiencing.

For some organizations, open innovation is less preferable than an internal innovation program because it often doesn’t incentivize innovation within the organization past partnerships. It’s also more often used by organizations with an already sophisticated innovation program.

Larger organizations, like government programs, thrive when they implement open innovation. They often face large social issues rather than organization-specific ones, which require more insight from a multitude of industries.

That’s not to say that your organization can’t learn a thing or two from players embracing open innovation. Here are five organizations that are, quite literally, changing the world with open innovation—solving our most pressing social issues today.

Maintained by the U.S. General Services Administration, Challenge.gov assists federal agencies with ideas shared from members of the public. Some of the most recent examples of crowdsourced ideas include cost-effective water system and self-driving vehicles.

Whether you’re a subject matter expert (SME), a small business owner, or a hobbyist, Challenge.gov wants help from you to address the issues that affect real people and communities.

With clients ranging from Ford and Boehringer Ingelheim, InnoCentive connects partners with industry SMEs to help solve their technological, scientific, and business challenges.

A globally minded organization, InnoCentive has run more than 2,000 challenges, receiving more than 162,000 solutions and awarded over $20,000,000.

Boosting industry-researcher collaboration is IC Global’s mission statement.

By leveraging data across industries and bridging what they mean—as well as bridging languages—IC Global facilitates “the know-how and the know-who.”

Kaggle is one of the largest data science communities in the world, with over 536,000 members in 194 countries. It provides data scientists a platform to actually exercise their skills rather than work primarily as theorists.

Data scientists and other developers can work together to solve real-world problems, from cancer research to improving site search results.

Similarly, Topcoder is a global network of designers, developers, and data scientists working toward real-world problems.

They have, for example, partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy on a competition called SunShot Catalyst, which was intended to inspire more Americans to adopt solar energy in their homes and businesses. From all the algorithmic and software submissions received, five startups were awarded funds to kickstart their business to boost the number of Americans using solar energy.

If your organization is still working toward its innovation goals, utilizing open innovation may not yet be on your radar. It is, however, the right time to consider idea management software—a tool that will help your internal program thrive.

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