Top 5 Companies for Open Innovation of 2013

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Open innovation is a concept that was developed by Henry Chesborough and this is his definition:

"Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively."

Basically this is a synergetic way for companies to share their once guarded ideas with organizations and individuals outside the company to accelerate the innovation process. Innovation allows companies to talk with other companies or customers during an earlier stage of development and to even include them in the product or service formation stage. This allows the companies to afford the ability of not only innovating faster but also saving resources on guesswork so that they can make the improvements that will matter most to their customers. Here are the top 5 companies with strong open innovation efforts.

1. GE – years of continuous development and the Ecomagination Challenge

GE has been a pioneer with its Ecoimagination Challenge by using it as its open innovation tool. It also has the added benefit direct communication with other companies and individuals to increase its already robust innovative process.

2. Philips – a global thoughtful approach on open innovation

There are plenty of partnerships that Philips has made to drive their open innovation forward. They cooperate with the High Tech Campus with knowledge sharing. Philips also actively contributes its experiences through the Philips innovation consultancy.

3. LEGO – partners and direct customer feedback

The household building company has a strong innovation program including their partnership with Cuusoo. Cuusoo itself is a platform for open innovation and LEGO integrate this crowdsourcing platform with great success. With the current program for the creation of a product it requires 10,000 votes. Also, they offer the ability for people to create the designs themselves.

4. UNILEVER – learning the hard way

Hindustan Unilever Limited was faced with financial problems that were exacerbated focused on margins and price increases ahead of collaboration with customers or employees. When they made the simple change to focusing on collaboration and encouraging employee innovation they were flooded with solutions to all of their problems that also reflected in a 34% increase in their stock price.

5. General Mills – thinking long-term

General Mills is one of the most innovative companies in the world as they were one of the first large companies to adopt an open innovation process. By using their global partners and customers as an additive to their innovation process they can stay competitive while their competitors struggle.

Trying to emulate these companies innovation processes on any scale will improve your chances in this economy as well as leading to better success in the future. Remember that people like to contribute and the more ideas or creative inputs that you can harness in your innovation process the more likely it is that you will be able to tackle any problem or situation that is thrown your way. Use these 5 top companies as a model for success and you will not only compete in this competitive business marketplace but you will be on your way to becoming your industry leader.

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