In Europe most of the companies are still focusing on the internal innovation processes by organising competitions and innovation challenges. Nevertheless, in much lesser extent they are using external ecosystems to drive their innovation capability.


I read recently that the growth of New York’s tech industry in the last decade has reshaped the city’s economy and its demographics — and has kept New York at the forefront of a rapidly changing digital landscape. At the same time, an article by Irving Wladawsky-Berger on 'The Wall Steer Journal' website argues that for the past few decades, Silicon Valley and the Boston area have been the most prominent digital innovation hubs in the world. Their leading positions as high-tech innovation centers have proved to be difficult to replicate. Therefore, according to the author, New York and London are unlikely to become high-tech innovation hubs, but they are well positioned to be major centres of private and public sector innovations regarding activities that involve people as providers or consumers of services.

In Europe most of the companies are still focusing on the internal innovation processes by organising competitions and innovation challenges. Nevertheless, in much lesser extent they are using external ecosystems to drive their innovation capability.

A month ago I had the chance to attend the 'Unleashing Innovation Summit' in New York. The event speakers represented many industries from the VP/Global Director of innovation level. Speakers included Irv Rothman, President and CEO of HP Financial Services, Moises Norena, Global Director Innovation Whirlpool, Najraj Kashyap, SVP Qualcomm Ventures, Dane Howard, Director Global Brand Experience eBay, Alex Tepper, Global Director Innovation GE, Bruce Brown, CTO PG, Thomas Neubert, VP Business Development Deutsche Telekom.

Good practices

Crowdsourcing was mentioned in several presentations as one of the important approaches interlinking the vendors with the user's needs; not only regarding technical solutions or funding for the projects per se.

At the summit, we had the chance to get familiar with the General Electric crowd(re)sourcing and Open Innovation model which the company implements in the very early innovation phases, including external challenges. It was clearly stated that the pecuniary prize itself was not the driving motivation for most of the participants; solving the engineering challenge was! What I also found remarkable was that rapid experimentation and fast scaling up speeded-up the whole process and minimized the risks. A proof of a statement we often make while communicating Open Innovation 2.0: Failing fast leads to co-creativity and collaborative business models with the clientele!

General Electric spread the following message: "Experiment, Experiment, Experiment!". The same approach was also shown in the P&G approach with smart learning: "fail cheaper in experiments" instead of bad learning: "fail in market". There is no direct measurement of innovation in the company. It is a question of innovation, prototyping and experimentation culture which brings faster the successes for scale-up and makes the failures cheaper.

Coca Cola also stressed the importance to experiment, prototype and fail/scale fast. Market surveys do not give the information needed for future products, but ethnographic studies are very valuable when selecting the areas to be prototyped in. An example was given by the "Freestyle Dispenser" product line where in compact-size drink dispensers 100+ varieties of the drink can be served.

Deutsche Telekom highlighted the top management commitment to be very visible: In the DT case one of the top four values of the company is to win with the partners. Here the challenges for the company were how to manage external partnering, internal developments (taking small teams out of the company to innovate), create start-up exchange and change the company's DNA! According to them 80% of the time changing the company to the "new" is fighting internal barriers!

eBay advocated strongly for visual storytelling in addressing the relevant issues for innovation, especially when co-developing ideas further together with the customers. PreVizualisation (visualise the future product and service) is being adopted in wide scale when developing new customer experience in the company. PreViz is according to the eBay experience to create a culture of making and also extracting at earlier stage (with less cost) the future needs. Creating headlines for the future seems to be a good mental model for results!

Report on Open Innovation ecosystems in the EU

The topic of how is Europe performing at innovation level has been of interest for us since the moment we founded the Open Innovation Group (OISPG). Last year our team, and Mrs Susana Mendoza in particular, worked on a report to show and analyze three main questions:

- why Innovation is not as prominent in the EU context as it potentially could be;

- why businesses do not grow fast enough;

- why, with so many available resources, there is still a lack of a framework to allow for faster innovation and success.

The report elaborates on the success factors and friction points of innovation ecosystems and compares the EU and US approach in the light of practical examples.

Some EU regions compare well with the ones globally leading in innovation but however, turning innovation to new business models is not a strong point in Europe; however it is increasingly important in the context of global competitiveness, jobs and growth.

The report is identifying pain points in the innovation process in Europe to be tackled further when developing the EU innovation actions for H2020 and beyond.

The report is going to be presented for the first time at the Open Innovation 2.0 Conference which is taking place in Dublin on 12th June!

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