Column: The evolution of open innovation for managing innovation ecosystems

We left open innovation initiatives or programs as complements to a main innovation process, to a management process.

In my previous article, I commented and exemplified how, in Covid-19 times , the management of the innovation ecosystem is more relevant than ever. Today, I want to talk a little about what this management is and how it has been presented as an evolution of open innovation .

The concept of open innovation, emerged in 2003, as a theory of the North American professor Henry Chesbrough , who advocates that the innovation process is open, that is, it is a process that, in certain stages, may purposefully involve partners. In other words, it is external knowledge being used in the innovation process, which has several stages, several moments.

At the beginning of his theory, Chesbrough focuses a lot on Research and Development (R&D) and on finding sources of innovation throughout this process. It evolves this to open the process and, also, the exploration of innovation in business models , in their commercialization, on the other side of the funnel; that is, to bring that innovation to the market in an innovative way as well.

In other words, this innovation can be of technological or scientific origin, but it can also be in the way a service or product is offered, and how it is consumed by its users or customers.

How innovation ecosystem management works

In this context, the management of innovation ecosystems is a phenomenon that has been strengthening over time. We have great references that show the importance of this and that I cannot fail to mention, such as Apple and its App Store, and Google , with their Google Play, companies that have made their main business an innovative platform.

Today, we have startups serving as a source of innovation for platforms managed by large companies. These platforms were called open innovation programs, and today it is understood that we are not only talking about an innovation process that starts with ideation until reaching an innovative product on the market, but rather with the management of a platform that allows this be systematized.

With that, you start to consider the source of innovation and the whole open process as “ecosystem management”. That is, you have large companies making themselves available as platforms for startups and creatives to provide innovation in the market. In this sense, managing innovation ecosystems becomes an evolution of open innovation, just as it has already happened in human resources, which started to be worked as people management, or in the supply chain, which moved to value chain management. .

The next step in open innovation

Open innovation is part of a still linear innovation management process, of managing external partners. It is like an addendum, a complement to the main internal process. On the other hand, the management of innovation ecosystems places external actors as an essential part of the company’s capacity to innovate, where an interdependence relationship is established, which must be managed in a broad way, as well as other fundamental processes of the company.

“With that, we left open innovation initiatives or programs as complements to a main innovation process, to a management process, with tools, methodologies and, mainly, vehicles of innovation with the ecosystem, which nourishes the company’s capacity to innovate and, at the same time, it also benefits from this openness ”

In this view, the more effectively a company can nourish itself from the innovation ecosystem, to which it belongs, and also foster, the more sustainable it will be.