Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Introducing open innovation and our course structure

Dr Christos Tsinopoulos introduces the concept of open innovation, what interests him about it, and offers some personal insights.
So what I would like to do in the next few minutes, and indeed in the whole course, is to convince you that open innovation is something that we all engage with, either at the personal level, for instance myself as a motorcycle or bicycle enthusiast when I try to find solutions to small problems I might have, or indeed at a professional level, as an R&D manager or a new product development manager when you’re looking outside the organisation trying to find ideas for new products, improving your processes, or indeed ideas for introducing a new service.
Now open innovation, as a term, was first coined by Professor Chesbrough in his book in 2003. And the way it is if you want formally defined is that it relates to the inflows and outflows of knowledge which strengthen innovation and potentially generate new markets. So more simply, if you want, it refers to the ability for an organisation or the process an organisation has in place to identify ideas for new processes, technologies, products, by looking outside its own environment. And one of the things that it actually does is that it’s trying to extend the traditional view of new product development, and research and development more generally.
Now this traditional view that I refer to is basically the view that the designer and innovator and entrepreneur even will sit away in some sort of R&D department or R&D room, and they will come up with a lot of new and exciting ideas that would eventually become new products.
So what open innovation does is that it extends or even challenges this view. And what this says is that basically we have to explore processes, mechanisms, and approaches that organisations use to identify and integrate views which are outside the organisational boundaries. Now these may be ideas from customers, ideas from suppliers, even competitors. It could be research studies conducted in universities and other research institutions, or indeed knowledge which might have been piled up in literature by academics and so on. Now it is in this space that here in Durham we conduct research in open innovation. Where we’re effectively try to bring together aspects of how people collaborate and work with each other to come up with ideas and solve problems.
So going back to the three examples that we’ve asked you to explore in the previous activities, you might have seen that effectively the common element was that in all three cases the innovation, the product that effectively we asked you to explore, was not developed by an R&D or new product development department, but actually by an external innovator or potentially the result of some sort of collaboration with external parties. So let’s look at the example in a little bit more detail. The first one was of CamelBak.
Now the original product, the CamelBak, was actually not developed, again, by an organisation, but by a cycling enthusiast that effectively had the problem of how to drink water while cycling or decelerating and stopping to have a sip of water. And he came up with this idea that eventually was commercialised via the company that he eventually developed. So again, not the central new product development company or new product development organisation. In the case of LEGO there is something similar. Now LEGO, what they do is that they ask LEGO enthusiasts to come up with potentially new products.
And the promise they make to these enthusiasts is that if these new products attract a lot of attention, in terms of votes on the websites, they promise them they’ll begin to develop them and convert them to a final product. And finally Swiffer, which has been developed by P&G, what they actually do is that they have developed this product in collaboration with suppliers and customers and other external parties. Again, not the direct result of the development of a new product department.
Now this course has been designed to be interactive, so we would like your input during the process, we encourage your input during the process. We would also like you to share your ideas, your existing ideas, experiences, and so on about open innovation, and of course innovation more generally. But I would also like to challenge your thinking about what you think innovation is, how do you think innovation actually takes place, but also potentially challenge our own views, our own research, and hopefully lead to some better and more in depth understanding.

Meet Dr Christos Tsinopoulos, our lead educator for this course. Christos introduces the concept of open innovation, what interests him about it, and explains how the course is structured. You may like to view Christos’ profile and choose to ‘follow’ his posts on this course.

Course outline

You may find this week by week outline (PDF) a useful reference as you go through the course.

Course Team

Alongside Christos, you’ll be hearing from [Dr Mat Hughes] and Dr Tim Hammond in Week 2 – sharing their insight and experience relating to how an organisation prepares itself for open innovation. In Week 3, you’ll hear Professor Kiran Fernandes share some key research findings about applying open innovation to processes.

Introduce yourself

If you haven’t already, please post a little bit about yourself in the comments, your reasons for taking this course and what you hope to get out of it. We look forward to hearing from you.

This article is from the free online

Harnessing Open Innovation in Business

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now