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How to do open innovation: five best routines to implement

December 1, 2021
How to do open innovation: five best routines to implement
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From the Startup Kit to cut red tape and allow even large companies to scale a new business in a shorter time, to the spread of the culture of innovation throughout the company

Open innovation is among the most effective ways to implement innovation in businesses. The use of external collaboration allows many companies, whether large, small or medium, to respond more quickly to market changes by amplifying progress, sharing results and increasing creativity. Although Open Innovation is a universal model, companies are not always able to use the ideas generated by employees, collaborators, researchers or startups to innovate in the most appropriate way, for example due to excessive managerial and organizational complexity or a lack of appropriate skills. This often generates a renunciation to apply a model that, instead, is able to constitute a lever for the growth of the company and a springboard for the startup.

Today Open Innovation is a dynamic widely used all over the world. According to the most recent surveys, about 70% of large companies have adopted this approach, although in different ways from case to case. But what are the factors that lead to a successful collaborative innovation strategy, so that a company can introduce into its business model new activities available on the market aimed at promoting and accelerating development processes?

6 tips

Collaborating with startups leads many companies to increase market opportunities on the one hand, and to innovate faster on the other. But turning this relationship into a commercial collaboration or lasting partnership puts companies at greater risk, as their sometimes rigid and structured environment may hinder this step, thus preventing them from achieving effective results. In order to collaborate with startups, it is necessary for companies to create the best conditions for co-innovation, involving multiple areas: from business units to administration, from purchasing to human resources. SMAU, a platform dedicated to innovation issues, in the framework of the working table "Collaborating with startups: tips and tricks" has drawn up a guide for all those companies that want to approach the world of startups through the Open Innovation model.

Working with the Procurement Manager

Keeping up with the bureaucracy of large companies is almost never easy for a startup. Operations such as the contract for the stipulation of the collaboration or the disbursement of the funds necessary for development, but also the mere finding of resources, are often blocked by the rigid systems of many multinationals, lengthening the start of the collaboration by months.

A fundamental aspect in the collaboration between large companies and startups is the ability to start innovation projects quickly and respecting the different needs, for this we took inspiration from the web - the "Startup kit": a set of measures made ad hoc, fully-digital, which, simplifying the processes, allows startups to be immediately operational: the kit in fact guarantees to sign a digital contract in a week receiving an advance of 50% of the amount of the project. In addition, payment times are foreseen at 30 days and there is a dedicated focal point during all phases of the project.

Spread the culture of innovation with Human Resources

The communication gap between different levels of the same company is very often found in the co-innovation model, whether with a new partner or a startup. Human Resources Managers and Corporate Communication Specialists, play the role of communication ambassadors, acting as a bridge to accelerate processes and instill a culture of innovation at all levels of the company, to enable all areas, in times of need, to collaborate directly with the startup. Without this kind of culture, both the company and the startup will find themselves facing long and cumbersome dynamics, especially bureaucratic ones. The corporate culture of Open Innovation, therefore, should start with Human Resources, not only because collaboration with the startup offers the possibility of transmitting the culture of entrepreneurship to employees, but above all to make them more aware of company processes.

Facilitate dialogue between corporate and startups with the experiences of the Innovation Manager

What Open Innovation will bring to the company, from presence in new market segments to projects in which to deploy time and resources, is not just a matter for the Innovation Manager and his business unit. Fostering the transfer of innovation ideas and strategies to multiple business floors allows problems to be solved more quickly and solutions to be found with greater awareness, also involving the strategic areas of the corporate. This also allows the startup to follow the company's standards and courses of action, allowing both teams to grow even with partners who are less structured but want to learn from the corporate's experience.

Drawing a roadmap and knowing how to change course when needed

If it is true that the startup allows the corporate to redesign models, develop new products or services and enter previously unexplored market segments, vice versa the enterprise brings great opportunaities to the startup, from new customers to new resources to grow the organization. What both have in common, however, is the strategic vision of the path started together, towards the same goal. The first step to running together and overcoming the bureaucratic, legal and contractual difficulties described above is definitely to get clear on strategic priorities, setting clear but flexible goals that encourage collaboration. Among the points presented by Deloitte at the last roundtable organized by SMAU, there was also talk of finding the right timing to work together.

The strategic role of facilitators and accelerators in facilitating networking

Openness to dialogue, finding points of contact and sharing common situations to build joint projects: these are just some of the advantages for companies and startups that participate in initiatives and opportunities for comparison promoted by facilitators and enablers. The role of innovation accelerators not only facilitates knowledge and networking, but becomes a channel that allows any partner to be perceived in the market as a process innovator and to be included in an ecosystem that favors the exchange of skills and know-how to start new collaborations. To promote the commitment of meeting platforms are realities such as the Ministry of Economic Development, which through Invitalia from last June 24 has opened the Smart Money incentive for innovative startups that want to use the specialized services of incubators, accelerators, research organizations and innovation hubs, to define their business plan and prepare for market launch.

Outsource tasks where you have a lack of practice

Delegation is the main feature on which outsourcing is based. You decide to delegate to let your employees focus on their core tasks, activities for which they have a specific expertise. What gains from this is the company's productivity. But that's not all. Also improving is the quality of work life. An employee who performs secondary tasks wastes energy and concentration.

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