Category Archives: Open Innovation

Re-inventing umbrellas and corkscrews in the Business & IP Centre

Squid_LondonIt never ceases to amaze me how innovative our customers in the Business & IP Centre are. In just the last couple of weeks I have been helping visitors who have re-invented the most iconic of household products, the umbrella and the corkscrew.

It started when a young man came up to the enquiry desk to ask if I could help find market research on the UK umbrella market. Sadly, the well-known publishers we hold such as Mintel and Keynote don’t tend to produce reports on niche markets like these. But a bit of creative researching led to some useful information on some of our other databases. I was of course curious as to why he wanted to know this information, (I would like to think this is part of what makes me a good information professional). “I guess you are going to tell me you have invented a new form of umbrella”, I said. His response was, “That is correct. I came up with the idea many years ago, and have now decided to patent it”.

As a heavy user of umbrellas to and from work (sadly they are necessary part of life in this rain ‘blessed’ nation), I can’t wait to see what his solution will be. The only real innovation I am aware of is the patented wind proof umbrella. Although an honourable mention should go to Squid London with their colour changing model, who just happen to be one of our Success Stories.

ScrewpullThe next encounter was with an older customer who wanted to find sales figures for corkscrews in the UK. Once again, we were not able to locate a market research report on this niche product. However we did manage to locate a few articles estimating sales and covering trends in the market.

As something of a gadget man I was interested in hearing about his corkscrew invention. But he wasn’t in a position to go into details at that point. However he did say that his idea was remarkably simple. I was left wondering if it will be any better than the ScrewPull system which is my current favourite. This involves the use of a low friction screw to penetrate the cork, combined with a mechanism that pulls it out of the bottle in one continuous movement.

By coincidence the previous evening Stephen Fry had been showing off what must be the most complicated and expensive corkscrew ever invented, on his Gadget Man television show.

 

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Higgs Corkscrew

 

Open Innovation in Public Services – Friday 30 November

Open Innovation logoOur next Open Innovation event at the British Library is next Friday on the the topic of Open Innovation in Public Services – New models for better value. With the public sector going through so many changes this is an ideal time to explore the role of Open Innovation:

How do public sector service providers find innovative solutions to rapidly changing sets of challenges within severe funding constraints? Answers may lie in opening up the search for innovative new service ideas and enhancements to the wider community, customers businesses and others.

This free, half-day, workshop gives anyone with an interest in the development and delivery of public services the opportunity to learn from the practical experiences of groundbreaking initiatives as well as the chance to share their own experiences with others. The contributors will be:

NESTA_logoVicki Purewal: Nesta Centre for Challenge Prizes. Challenge prizes, also called ‘inducement prizes’, offer a reward to whoever can first, or most effectively, meet a defined challenge. The Centre for Challenge Prizes brings together the growing expertise and interest in challenge prizes to help build an understanding of how they can play an effective and strategic role in the stimulation and support of innovation.

Carl Reynolds: NHS Hack Days. NHS Software Development Days (also called ‘Hack Days’ by software developers are intense one-or-two-day events that bring together a group of doctors, developers, designers with a commitment to the NHS to build exciting or off-the-wall prototypes that promote health.

genius_mastheadHeather Niven: GenIUS York.  GenIUS York  opens up the process of solving the city’s medium to long term strategic and operational challenges through providing a mechanism to have conversations and co-develop solutions with businesses, academics and the community. This is possible through the use of an online platform to communicate the challenges and encourage discussion around possible solutions.

Jennifer Parkin: Camden Council Innovation and Development Fund. The The Innovation and Development Fund aims to unlock the creativity and resources that exist within the borough, find practical solutions that reduce inequality and to enable Camden residents to reach their full potential. The fund seeks to support innovative ideas and gives power to local communities to make things happen in their local area. It offers financial investment and a tailored support package to support innovators to make their ideas a reality.

David Townson: Design Council. The Design Council’s Leadership Programme supports public sector clients in finding long term improvements to products and services. The result is a legacy of better connected teams, increased innovation and cost savings.

Alison Coward from Bracket will facilitate a panel discussion. Bracket is a creative collaboration agency which develops strategies, faciltates workshops, builds bespoke teams and manages projects which bring people together to help businesses develop and deliver new ideas.

Twitter hashtag:  #oipsrv 

Date and venue

  • 30 November 2012: 10-1300:  The British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.

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Open Innovation: Working with others to make new ideas fly

My colleague Nigel Spencer, Research and Business Development Manager reports on our exciting workshop next Monday 29 November:

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Do you have access to all the skills, knowledge, experience and perspectives needed to develop innovative products and services within your own organisation?

No matter how large that organisation is, it is highly unlikely that you do.  If you seek input from other businesses, often in different sectors, customers, and others you are much more likely to identify innovative ideas and solutions and to build the type of partnerships which will help you turn those ideas into sustainable products and services.  This simple premise is the basis of open innovation.

Stefan Lindegaard 15inno says that people should view  open innovation as ‘a philosophy or a mindset that they should embrace within their organization. This mindset should enable their organization to work with external input to the innovation process just as naturally as it does with internal input’.

So,you should not look at  open innovation as a rigid business or innovation model. It  is a shorthand that describes a diverse range of engagement and collabration activity with differing levels of formality and structure.  Examples of these include crowdsourcing, online competitions, online jams and more closely facilitated relationships. There are many examples of  global corporations that have applied open innovation methods. These include  ‘Orange’, Procter & Gamble, Boots, Lego and Virgin Atlantic but the growth in social media and online open innovation platforms like Innocentive, mean that anyone can find a way of applying open innovation principles.

However, if you are looking to embrace the world of open innovation, or even dip your toe in the water, a number of perceived and genuine barriers and challenges may make you hesitate. Some of these are:

  • How to make the contacts needed with external organisations and people and develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships. This a particular concern if the businesses are of differing sizes.
  • How to overcome the internal organisational cultures which may be uncomfortable with the kind of openness, transparency and perceived loss of direct control which are involved in applying these ideas.
  • How to protect ideas and creative outputs when these are being shared and an uncertainty as to how intellectual property fits into an open innovation environment.

On 29 November 2011 the BL is hosting a half-day conference which looks at these challenges head on.  It is called ‘Open Innovation: The Challenges & Solutions’.

We have brought together a great selection of experts and practitioners from organisations like 100% Open, Creative Barcode, Procter and Gamble and Quantum Innovation Centre to debate these issues.

More information and booking on the event.

The event is part of an EU-funded Interreg IVB NEW project called The Open Innovation Project.

British Library and the Open Innovation Project – Working with others to make new ideas fly

My colleague Nigel Spencer reports on an exciting new project at the British Library:

Working with others to make new ideas fly is the strap-line for a European Union funded project to promote open innovation principles across the North West Europe region.  The British Library is a partner in this three year project along with partners from France, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and other parts of the UK.

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openinnovationproject.co.uk

The concept of open innovation is simply that by being open to external input you are more likely to develop innovative and successful products or services. This is because it is unlikely that any single organisation will have all the skills, knowledge, experience and perspectives needed in-house. Open innovation covers a range of types of activity including crowd-sourcing, co-creation and includes activities with varying levels of openness and transparency.

Stefan Lindegaard from 15inno says that people should view  open innovation as ‘a philosophy or a mindset that they should embrace within their organization. This mindset should enable their organization to work with external input to the innovation process just as naturally as it does with internal input’.

Examples of organisations that have applied open innovation are:  ‘Orange, Procter & Gamble, Boots, Lego and Virgin Atlantic.

There are a number of perceived and genuine barriers and challenges which prevent businesses of all sizes from taking the leap to applying open innovation principles; Some of these challenges are:

  •  How to make the contacts needed with external organisations and people and develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships. This a particular concern if businesses are of differing sizes.
  • How to overcome the internal organisational cultures which may be uncomfortable with the kind of openness, transparency and perceived loss of direct control which are involved in applying these ideas.
  • How to protect ideas and creative outputs when these are being shared and an uncertainty as to how intellectual property fits into an open innovation environment.

On 29 November the British Library is hosting a half-day conference which looks at these challenges head on.  It is called ‘Open Innovation: The Challenges & Solutions’. We have brought together a great selection of experts and practitioners from organisations like 100% Open, Creative Barcode, Procter and Gamble and Quantum Innovation Centre to debate these issues.

More information and booking on the event, and you can follow the Open Innovation Project on Twitter at @OIProject