Making open innovation work in healthcare

open-innovation-healthcareJust over a year ago the doyen of open innovation Henry Chesborough released a report in which he highlighted the tremendous growth in open innovation acceptance.

Some 78% of organizations were revealed to be using open innovation.  Around the same time, a report from the Wellcome Trust outlined the importance of an open approach to innovation in the healthcare and life science industries.

The report suggested four things they believe are crucial to successful innovation through open partnerships.

  1. Aligning objectives – Members of a partnership may enter into the collaboration with a number of different aims in mind.  The researchers suggest that success rests upon aligning those potentially disparate goals into one unifying ojective.
  2. Managing intellectual property – With any partnership there needs to be a degree of transparency for the partnership to work, and this is especially so with innovation partnerships.  The report suggests that it is crucial to have frank discussions at the outset about what each party expects from the partnership in terms of IP.
  3. Bridging cultures –  It probably goes without saying that cultures play a huge part in any successful partnership, but especially when the partnership relies on a shared understanding of what openness means, and what success looks like.  The report highlights for instance how differences often exist between what academics want from innovation and what commerce wants.  The report cited a number of barriers to innovation, including technology transfer offices within academia and the lack of cultural willingness to engage in partnership within the NHS.
  4. Structuring for success – The final element for success recommended by the paper is to have sound management structures in place to ensure the collaboration stays focused.  This could be a neutral party to avoid any potential issues between each member.

Making open innovation work

Suffice to say, the process of opening up ones innovation remains a challenge however.  The latest attempt to shed some insight into the matter, especially from a healthcare perspective, comes via a recent report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

The report suggests there are five key elements to achieving success with open innovation.  Success typically requires a combination of:

  1. Adequate resources contributed and exchanged by the participants in the ecosystem
  2. The skills and characteristics of the participants
  3. The relationships and interactions between the participants
  4. The way the ecosystem is organized
  5. The wider environment within which the ecosystem operates

Within these five facets, the authors identified 10 best practices that they believe are crucial.

For instance, agents should be encouraged to share resources internally, with as much diversity as possible amongst the participants and a culture of transparency promoted in interactions within the ecosystem whilst also continuously scanning the horizon for external conditions.

You can access the report for free here.


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