Open innovation at your fingertips

Are you interested in getting help to further your research? For example, are you looking for funding or for strategic partners for a project? Do you need to get access to large amounts of relevant data? Do you wish at get in touch with lots of individuals who can contribute? Do you need to acquire credit and attribution? You may also need to involve students?

To address all these issues relevant to researchers, there are a growing number of solutions available, gathered under the umbrella of open innovation. These include crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, toolkits, ideation, open data, open access, easy access, creative commons and user innovation. To tell them apart, a new guide can help scientists navigate the convoluted ways of modern innovation. It is entitled ‘Open Innovation – A Handbook for Researchers.’ It explains the role of the different tools in the innovation box. It also includes many case studies demonstrating how researchers all over the world have used such tools to enhance their research.

Among the examples included in the handbook, is a Swedish crowdsourcing site called Blommar.nu. It allows people to report on what is happening in nature. For example, individuals can report whether the blueberries are ripe in a certain location or if the apple trees are blooming. Several universities support it.

Another case study mentioned in the handbook is that of Alexander Osterwalder, who used crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and creative commons to successfully disseminate his research on Business Model Generation.

Yet, another example is that of a group of researchers focusing on traffic-related issues. They have come together to publish information and data on a common website called Trafiklab. To generate and enhance the use of their data, they organise an innovation competition—what is referred to as ideation—called Travel Hack.

Researchers within technology and science have been among the first to explore these new opportunities. And, today, more and more researchers are using open innovation to combine research, education and innovation.

In parallel, governments, research funding agencies and universities have taken measures to ensure that open innovation tools are used. For example, the EU Digital Agenda Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, recently announced that open access is one of the guiding principles when publishing the scientific results of research funded by Horizon 2020, as part of a new strategy. The combination of collaboration across various borders and the use of information technology is an important key to ensure the success of future research and its utilisation.

So far, much of the literature on open innovation has focused on the benefits for companies. However, researchers have also a lot to gain. The handbook therefore targets young researchers from all research areas, who already are Internet savvy but would like to know more about open innovation. Our hope is that they can get their older colleagues interested too.

Ultimately, our mission is to help researchers do even better research and make sure that the knowledge they develop is put to use. Open innovation can play a big role in this.

Please help us spread the word!

Lena Holmberg

Innovation advisor, Innovationskontor Väst, technology transfer office at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden

Featured image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 by opensource.com

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