According to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) the definition of innovation is: “The creation or modification of a product and its introduction into a market”. Open innovation would be to do this with the help of others.
I base myself on the idea that we only innovate when we obtain an economic performance thanks to having introduced a new or improved product or service onto the market, to point out what I consider to be one of the most genuine manifestations of the open innovation model. This takes place when a leading company in an emerging sector places its technology portfolio, protected by Intellectual Property rights, at the disposal of its competitors in order to accelerate the development of the sector in question.
Let’s not fool ourselves, this is not an unnatural, gratuitous or improvised gesture. It is more the consequence of a well thought-out business strategy based on strict efficiency criteria, i.e. to share a key asset, in this case a disruptive technology, with competitors in order to use their capacities and resources to obtain a more rapid development of the final product, take quicker advantage of a promising market, thus making it possible to gain profit from the investment in a shorter period of time.
This is how companies like Tesla Motors or Toyota seem to be respectively planning their advances in emerging markets like electric vehicles or vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
They also seem to be motivated to do this by a fierce instinct for survival, fearing that their existence does not now only depend on their own abilities and strengths, which have been proven countless times, but also on their capacity to create alliances with those who will allow them to reach new horizons, and develop new products as quickly as possible so that they are not swept aside by the frenetic rhythm imposed by the needs of present-day society.
The machinery of technological evolution has never been driven as fast and in such an uncontrolled unpredictable manner as is happening today. And this is what is leading companies to consider, more than ever before, collaborations and the pooling of knowledge and capacities in order to respond to the effervescent reality of the current global market, where offer appears at almost the same time as the demand, and they almost never coincide, due to the changeable nature of the latter.
Sharing resources and enlarging abilities is what makes it possible for a company to be sustainable in this overwhelming scenario of relentless technological development.
The question is, how to share without risking too much? Now, let’s imagine a climb to the peak of the market, a challenge in which companies form alliances and support each other by means of the delicate strings which are mutual understanding and common objectives. However, they need a harness to avoid the fall, and this harness, for open innovation, involves measures to secure shared knowledge and Intellectual Property: the previous protection and establishment of a regime for the use and exploitation of the corresponding contracts.