Industry 4.0 enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) allows for the integration of people, assets and applications within a company. It also contributes to the integration of a company with its wider ecosystem, which probably consists of customers, subcontractors, suppliers and R&D partners.
Major trends that encourage Industry 4.0 are shorter product and service lifecycles and therefore the need to speed up time to market. Thus, the need for innovation will be increased. It might bring organisations to their limit in terms of innovation capacity and capabilities internally. Open Innovation can be an approach to master the innovation game and to stay competitive in fast-changing markets.
The term Open Innovation was coined by Henry Chesbrough, a professor at UC Berkeley`s Haas Business School. In his definition it is “the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation and to expand the markets for external use of innovation”. This is based on the acknowledgement that knowledge and experience within an organisation is limited and that internal regulations/processes might even cause further limitations to evoke innovation.
The most prominent challenge that comes along with Open Innovation is how to handle the intellectual property (IP). The collaboration with third parties in innovation could create conflicts about IP ownership and raise the question of which part of the innovation will be owned by whom.
Thus, it is a good idea to have a contractual regulation between the organisations for the processes of open and connected innovation fostered by Industry 4.0. There could be also a framework agreement between the organisations, that will set the rules under which joint innovation will take place.
Since 2008 the Slovenian Enterprise Fund has been offering financial support for newly established innovative enterprises with a high growth potential. The focus has been at enterprises at the beginning of their business journey and are developing innovative products for the wider market as well as processes and services with a high added value.
These incentives provide financial support to young enterprises in the first development phase, which covers the setting up of an enterprise, the creation of a minimum viable product (MVP) based on own development, the creation of an entrepreneurial team, a direct transfer of knowledge and knowledge institutions into the business environment.
This is the most extensive group of newly established young innovative enterprises that show potential for rapid growth and need the most favourable financial sources at the beginning of their business journey. The call for proposal is composed of two phases: pre-selection and complete project proposal. The successful startup can gain up to 54k euro in grants funding.
In addition to financial suppport, the startups can benefit also from free consulting services, provided by eminent mentors and coaches. This measure »Startup Incentives« is the first part of the comprehensive Support Programme for young enterprises in Slovenia.
Chamber of Craft & Small Businesses of Slovenia
Several domain leaders are looking to collaborate with start-up companies that are more open to novel approaches and flexible in their approach towards manufacturing. These start-ups usually focus on creating new technologies that can enhance the capabilities of existing organizations by leaps and bounds.
Another major benefit of partnering with start-ups is that they are smaller in size and it is easier for them to adapt to the changing business ecosystem. Finally, services offered by start-ups that are just beginning to gain scale in the market are usually priced low and are easily affordable. Thus, organizations can save huge amounts by opting for start-ups instead of established companies for their collaborations.
Moreover, start-ups usually come armed with a variety of new-age entrepreneurs that are skilled in several cutting-edge disciplines. The exchange of novel thoughts and ideas between individuals who have worked on and with leading technologies is always a huge plus for evolving companies.
Things to Keep in Mind While Collaborating for Innovation
Keeping in mind that digitization will be at the heart of these collaborations, here are some key factors that can lead to a successful collaboration between organizations:
Currently, rapidly evolving trends and multitudes of challenges exist in the manufacturing industry. Along with widespread technological uptake, companies will have to go through complete mindset shifts in order to survive in the 4th industrial revolution. Organizations carrying out business alongside each other will be required to become one unit, to share digital technologies and infrastructures and remain competitive in this ever-evolving business landscape.
Different from the traditional R&D business model that keeps all the information internal, companies who embrace Open Innovation let the door open and ask for external ideas to solve their current business challenges more efficiently.
According to the article Could Open Innovation save the world? (Fitzgerald, 2020), there are few aspects that Open Innovation can bring benefits to the company:
However, not merely more companies are participating in the Open Innovation programme because the payoff is not always clear and also it is difficult for companies to identify which business solutions can create value for all the stakeholders. The author in the article suggested that companies should focus on the overall ROI created by open innovation rather than the individual return of each solution.
Responding to the title of the article, can Open Innovation really save the world” our answer might be yes, but the problem lies in how to make it happen.
In the Upskilling Lab 4.0 project, we will develop a robust model of collaboration between startups and corporates, the skill development network to make more Open Innovation and collaboration happen.
European Startup Network
The World Economic Forum is providing a manual to help startups and corporates work together.
The White Paper illustrates the Benefits for each side, going through Risks they should be aware of, and it finishes with the Challenges they both groups are facing when working together. The main conclusion is that they have to develop a common understanding of collaboration.
It offers a good deal of FAQ that each group has to clarify before entering the collaboration and through its life cycle (Startups: Budget, Economic Buyer, Amplifier, Metrics, Target for the Corporate; and Corporates: What, Why, Which and Who).
Moreover, the document offers several Collaboration and organization models for corporates when working together with startups. Few snapshots from the White Paper are available below, but for more extensive understanding we recommend a review of the paper here.
1. Direct Sourcing
2. Internal Innovation Unit
3. Corporate Incubator Model
4. External Subsidiary
5. Entrepreneurial Co-creation Model
University of Deusto
The European Data Incubator (EDI), a Horizon 2020 project, backed by the European Commission, is entering its final round.
The University of Deusto, project partner in the Upskilling Lab project, co-funded under the Erasmus+ programme, leads a consortium of experts in Big Data and Incubation of startups. “Only 2 out of the top 20 companies changing lives and making money from Big Data are European”. So this virtual incubator is linking startups with data providers (hopefully, some of them will become customers) to solve a challenge that the latter place on the table.
EDI will help those startups and data providers jump this hurdle providing:
(1) a free infrastructure with open source tools
(2) training on the most known off-the-self solutions
(3) support and business services to develop their business idea
(4) equity-free funding.
The European Data Incubator is a three-phase incubation programme (more details in the picture below):
The project is entering now Evolve phase of the second call and in March the new call for startups and data providers will be opened again.
So far, 70 startups have profited from the different services and grants provided by EDI. And, the aim of this project is to help 120 startups by the end of the third round.
University of Deusto
The EU funded project UpskillingLab 4.0 kicked off in Sofia, Bulgaria, on the 12th and 13th December. The main project goal is to provide skill improvement opportunities to companies’ staff (managers and employees) in order to connect international start-ups, scaleups, and established companies operating in specific verticals with focus on modern technologies and innovation (Industry 4.0). The meeting was an opportunity for all the partners to get more acquainted with the details of the project.
The consortium delivering the project is composed of:
● Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), leader of the consortium
● Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC), from Bulgaria
● Chamber of Craft & Small Business of Slovenia (CCSBS), from Slovenia
● University of Deusto, from Spain
● European Startup Network (ESN), from Belgium
● Inqubator Leeuwarden (INQ), from the Netherlands
On Thursday the 12th, the meeting opened with presentations by Veselin Iliev and Christina Kasparyan, from BIA, giving a general overview of the project and clarifying administrative and financial details to the partners. The partners agreed on the date of the next meeting, which will be hosted by CCSBS, in Portorož (Slovenia) on the 26th and 27th of May.
The meeting continued with several presentations on the upcoming activities. Massimo Privitera, from ESN, responsible for dissemination and promotion, presented the first draft of the dissemination strategy and the initial concept for the newsletter. Milena Koleva, from KISMC, contributed to the discussion on communication with a presentation of a few options for the logo, and the partners agreed on the version that is currently used on the website and on the communication materials.
The first day of the meeting closed with a general presentation by Jose A. Campos, from Deusto, on the Skills development framework, the Intellectual Output (O2) for which Deusto is responsible. The aim of such a framework is to map the necessary competences and skills for open innovation in Industry 4.0. It will serve as a pedagogical guide made of relevant tools and methods.
On the 13th Friday, the meeting saw few other presentations on future activities and intellectual outputs.
Milena Koleva, from KSIMC, gave a presentation on Business-to-business open innovation (O2/A1), one of the sub-outputs included in the Skills development framework, which will provide an overview of the paradigm of open innovation and then a guideline for the implementation process of such paradigm by the business.
The meeting closed with a presentation by Sasha Dijkstra, from Inqubator Leeuwarden, on the Collaboration management framework (O2/A2), another sub-output included in the Skills development framework, which will be based on the standard CEN/TS 16555 Part 5 (Collaboration Management), and will elaborate on different modes of collaboration (i.e. gaining "exposure", "trend-spotting", acceleration programmes, procurement and co-development, co-creation, investment, acquision).
European Startup Network
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