How to use open innovation to find new products

‘Open innovation is a key resource that companies can employ to find new products’

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The open innovation movement is in full swing, and companies everywhere are turning to external sources for new product ideas. But with open innovation becoming a standard business model, how can a company truly gain a competitive advantage? More specifically, where can it look for new products that no one else has thought to look?

Though it sometimes may seem like the well of new ideas has run dry, there is a practical, cost-effective solution that remains relatively untapped across industries. Open innovation is a key resource that companies can employ to find new products.

In the effort to avoid stagnation, large corporations (including Fortune 500) are turning to entirely new sources of innovation for an efficient alternative to traditional research and development (R&D).

Among the alternative sources are companies that offer assistance to individuals with ideas for new products. Licensing inventions to corporations has picked up in recent years as companies tap into open innovation databases, which saves R&D costs while also rewarding inventors for their ingenuity.

Once the bread and butter of new product development, businesses are no longer focusing the majority of their energy on internal R&D.

>See also: Why luxury brands are embracing open innovation

While internal R&D remains an important aspect of product development, it should not be a company’s sole or overwhelming focus.

For one thing, it places limitations on companies that ultimately may be detrimental to a business’s staying power. These limitations include tremendous funding for equipment, space and personnel, along with ideas that are comfortably planted “inside the box”.

By using external avenues, companies are no longer limited to their physical assets and traditional thinking. Isolation is over; collaboration is key.

To become (or continue to be) a leader of open innovation, the key is to remember one of the fundamental ideas that fuel this model in the first place: keeping the business open to new ideas.

This means looking for ideas in places the company wouldn’t traditionally think to look, and keeping eyes and ears constantly open to the world around.

Business leaders should frequently ask themselves two questions: what differentiates their open innovation efforts from their competitors; and are they shaping the open innovation trend in their industry or just following it?

Often, the best ideas come not from big business, but from the little guys – small businesses, entrepreneurs or, even, individual inventors.

Everyday inventors are primarily those who invent out of necessity. They can’t find the product they need on the market, so they alter an existing product until it meets their needs. The products they alter are anyone’s to tap into.

 

Sourced from Robert Susa, CEO of InventHelp

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