Open Innovation: How Austrian Companies Develop Ingenious Ideas
Our country was the first EU member state to publish a national “Open Innovation Strategy”. The intensified cooperation of business, science, public administration and society should serve to enable Austria to successfully hold its own in the long term with respect to global innovation competition. “Open innovation” in itself is not a new idea. The targeted integration of external know-how in the company’s in-house research and development processes has already been practiced in various sectors for many years. The American economist Henry Chesbrough increased the visibility of this approach with his book “Open Innovation” published in 2003.
Today companies naturally incorporate the know-how and ideas of customers, suppliers, partners etc. in order to develop and optimize their own products and services. This involves so-called “outside-in open innovation”. This is in contrast to “inside-out open innovation”, which describes the sharing of technological or specialized knowledge with third parties. One good example is the dissemination of expertise in the form of licenses. If both approaches are combined, the result is “coupled open innovation”. This simply means the joint development of ideas and solutions among several parties, different disciplines or sectors.
In practice, there are numerous challenges related to “open innovation”. The Republic of Austria and individual federal provinces support companies in mastering these challenges. A few examples are provided here:
The COMET Program managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG provides support in jointly researching forward-looking topics, enabling new product, process and service innovations to be created. Close to 50 COMET centers and networks have been established across the country. They serve as nodes for Austrian research which is renowned throughout the world.
In addition to FFG, the Christian Doppler Research Association (CDG), which has comprised an important and successful part of Austria’s research landscape for many years, promotes the cooperation of companies and research facilities. It makes its own specially established research units available with pre-defined periods of operation, namely the Christian Doppler laboratories (CD laboratories). This enables companies to pursue application-oriented basic research.
The activities of the Ludwig Boltzmann Society (LBG) founded in 1961 date back much further in the past. 40 percent of the funding for the Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes (LBIs) are supplied by partners, for example research institutions or sponsoring healthcare organizations. For examples, LBG has taken pioneering steps into the future with its Open Innovation in Science Research and Competence Center (OIS Center) and the Lab for Open Innovation in Science (LOIS).
In addition to funding programs and open innovation projects focusing on partnerships between companies and universities, there are also several programs (e.g. COIN, Kreativwirtschaftsscheck – grants for creative industries), aiming to promote the cooperation between small and medium-sized companies in order to improve their innovative capabilities and innovation output. An opening of know-how and innovation processes can be essential, especially for SMEs, in order to enable them to master the increasingly complex challenges arising from the advance of digitalization and globalization.
- Applications for new CD laboratories can be submitted until February 9, 2018.
- Applications for new K1 centers can be submitted until May 4, 2018.