Open innovation and the innovation ecosystem

100 Open Startups
3 min readMar 8, 2022

We move from open innovation initiatives or programs as complements of a main innovation process, to a management process

In times of Covid-19 , managing the innovation ecosystem is more relevant than ever. Today, it is essential to talk about what this management is and how it has presented itself as an evolution of open innovation .

The concept of open innovation emerged in 2003, as a theory by the American professor Henry Chesbrough , who advocates that the innovation process is open, that is, it is a process that may, at certain stages, 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 heavily on Research and Development (R&D) and finding sources of innovation along the way. It evolves this into opening up the process and also exploring innovation in business models , in their commercialization, on the other side of the funnel; that is, to take that innovation to the market in an innovative way.

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

How does innovation ecosystem management work?

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, such as Apple and its App Store, and Google , with its Google Play, companies that have turned their main business into a platform for innovators.

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 in the market, but rather 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 make innovation available to the market. In this sense, managing the innovation ecosystem becomes an evolution of open innovation, as it has already happened in human resources, which started to be worked as people management, or in the supply chain, which changed to value chain management. .

The next step of open innovation

Open innovation is part of a still linear innovation management process, of managing external partners. It’s 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 ability to innovate, where a relationship of interdependence is established, which must be managed broadly, as well as other fundamental processes of the company.

“With this, we moved from open innovation initiatives or programs as complements of a main innovation process, to a management process, with tools, methodologies and, above all, innovation vehicles with the ecosystem, which nourishes the company’s ability to innovate. and, at the same time, also benefits from this openness”

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