The Dos and Don’ts of Open Innovation

The Dos and Don’ts of Open Innovation

By Caitlin Klask

What is open innovation?

It can be answered many ways, but there’s no right answer: They’re all true. John Stewart, director of open innovation at Tate & Lyle, recently gave a great description of what open innovation can (and can’t) mean at his company.

At Tate & Lyle, open innovation involves seeking out innovations from the outside world, which gets better products to market faster than the company could manage internally. Basically, the goal of open innovation at Tate & Lyle is to provide faster growth. It’s a learning process that opens a company up to new possibilities rather than halting at roadblocks.

How Tate & Lyle innovates:

According to Stewart, this is how Tate & Lyle achieves open innovation:

  • Cultivating partnerships with companies all across the board (large and small) to find new products and technologies
  • Growing the innovation pipeline with those new products and technologies
  • Acknowledging limits within the company and finding other companies to fill the gaps
  • Cutting development time potentially by years

But there are certain methods that Tate & Lyle avoids:

  • Contract research
  • Basic research through academic collaborations
  • Joint ventures
  • Technology or company spin-offs

(Stewart elaborates in his full presentation:

Tate & Lyle, which dedicates a small and focused part of its staff solely to open innovation, focuses on methods like technology scouting, crowd sourcing and research consortia to achieve a perfect equilibrium in open innovation. But one of the most important parts of the entire process is credibility.

“Open innovation is about finding the right partners,” Stewart says in his presentation. “One of the ultimate goals is to be recognized as the partner of choice in your sector.” Stay focused on the partnerships you build, and as Tate & Lyle suggests, treat your partners like customers.

What do you think about open innovation? Could companies survive solely on internal development, or is it necessary to seek external partnerships? How does your company incorporate Tate & Lyle’s open innovation techniques?

At PreScouter, we help companies find the most innovative solutions to any challenge. Contact us today and challenge us with yours!

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