Moonshots and megatrends observations from World Open Innovation Conference

Paavo Ritala at WOIC 2017 1

Paavo Ritala at WOIC 2017

Paavo Ritala, attended the  4th Annual World Open Innovation Conference  (WOIC) for the first time and he comments that we are moving towards better understanding of both micro and macro environments of open innovation.

This was my first time participating at the conference, and my impression was overall very positive. The conference included several keynote speakers that provided insights into the booming research programme of open innovation.

Henry Chesbrough – as the mastermind behind the concept – provided insights into why open innovation is important as ever, and how the research community, as well as WOIC conferences, have developed around it.

Furthermore, David Teece provided interesting historical connections to his profiting from innovation (PFI) framework from 1986 with open innovation.

Interestingly, in Teece’s framework, external “contracting” was often seen as preferred option to in-house development.

Although open innovation is not a new topic, it is fair to say that the prominence of the phenomenon is still on the rise along with the wider adoption of the concept.

Organizational moonshots

There were also an impressive range of corporate speakers that provided insights into the pragmatics of open innovation in their companies and ecosystems. For instance, William Ruh, CEO of GE Digital, discussed how large corporations have to balance between what they reveal openly, and what is kept in-house.

Dr. Arati Prabhakar, former head of DARPA, discussed “organizational moonshots”. When trying to reach the moon (literally or figuratively), you need to engage with wide variety of external stakeholders, initiate projects that have extremely challenging targets, but at the same time keep the project portfolio at close watch in order to capitalize the opportunities and allocate resources effectively.

My general observation is that we are moving towards better understanding of both micro and macro environments of open innovation. As for micro, researchers are increasingly looking at individual and team level behavior in knowledge sharing and innovation activities, as it comes to collaboration with external stakeholders. For macro, researchers are increasingly aware of context and contingencies under which open innovation takes place, including e.g. culture and legislation.

Link to megatrends

Finally, we are witnessing the linkage of open innovation to two major megatrends: sustainability and digitalization. For sustainability, we are seeing more and more contributions that show how networks and ecosystems of private and public sector actors are together innovation to solve grand challenges that we face. In terms of digitalization, there are increasing emphasis on how innovation activities are organized around and through digital platforms and ecosystems.

Editors speak 

There was also an editor panel – including yours truly – where editors from different journals (California Management Review, Industrial and Corporate Change, R&D Management) discussed with the audience on publishing open innovation research. The main takeaways included focusing on scope of the target journal before submitting and taking care of the quality of communication pre-submission. Furthermore, all editors highlighted that open innovation submissions are more than welcome to these journals, and recognized that there are new intriguing themes – such as innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems – that warrant attention by open innovation researchers.

Looking forward to R&D Management conference

The open innovation theme will continue in R&D Management Conference at Milan in July 2018, where several tracks are dedicated to the theme. Furthermore, ISPIM Conference at Stockholm at June 2018 will cover similar themes, among others. You can find me at both conferences, so see you around!

WOIC 2017 speakers


Post written by Paavo Ritala, Professor of Strategy and Innovation, LUT School of Business and Management, and Associate Editor, R&D Management

Twitter: @paavoritala

The 4th Annual World Open Innovation Conference was held in San Francisco Airport Marriot Waterfront at December 14-15, 2017.