Open Innovation in the Supply Chain: a winning bet?

Expert opinion

Elodie Özen, Founder of Umains
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Umains blog SprintProject

Open Innovation: what are we talking about? 

Different definitions of Open Innovation are proposed in literature. The OECD (2008) lists some of them. 

Very concretely, where before, innovation occurred internally (possibly within the Research & Development department), a transition has been taking place for several years with the emergence of new modes of collaboration. Open innovation aims to accelerate the company's innovation dynamic by involving both all of its internal resources (employees) and its external ecosystem (customers, suppliers, research laboratories, universities, start-ups, local authorities, NGOs). , …).


What are the benefits for large companies? 

By providing external knowledge or expertise, Open Innovation allows the company: 

  • to increase the value of its offer (value proposition)
  • reduce product development costs
  • to shorten their time to market
  • to optimize your earnings (value capture).

This open mode of innovation allows a traditional company to find new agility. For its part, the start-up benefits from the experience of its partner, its network of contacts and its financial support.


Does Open Innovation carry risks? 

For the company, the main risk lies in the dispersion that this mode of innovation can bring. Managing a collaborative project requires specific resources and skills. Work between organizations of different cultures and professions constitutes progress and enrichment in human relations, but can also bring its share of disagreements on operations.


Collaboration between large groups and start-ups: a magic formula for success?

A successful collaboration requires the prior work of the large group to build robust foundations for the “re-innovation” project. 

The large group must: 

  1. Identify the resources to mobilize for future innovation projects
  2. Clearly determine the innovation projects that the company has an interest in carrying out alone and those it has an interest in carrying out with the start-up
  3. Ensure that the consortium is balanced and the number of partners reasonable to achieve valuable results
  4. Define the sharing of intellectual property and its operating methods before collaborating. 


What part is given to co-development? 

For Humans, the concept of co-development is at the heart of our activities: from the construction of the offer, to the tech architecture and pricing. Each key stage of the development of our start-up is questioned, debated and then validated by our users and partners.


Limits to co-development? 

The main limitation is not agreeing on the starting rules and wasting time, which can lead to bipartisan team burnout. Within Umains, we try to apply the principle of “reasoned negotiation” or win/win method (Fisher and Ury). This method focuses on mutual benefits, on retaining fair, objective criteria, to find a final agreement. It is based in particular on the fact of focusing on interests (divergent and common), of seeking solutions bringing mutual benefit to the stakeholders and of retaining objective decision criteria, not subject to the influences of the parties, easy to implement. , clear, and above all accepted. 


SprintProject's contribution

For Umains, the contribution of SprintProject is crucial in the process. The organization provides us with business expertise, key contacts and advice on the management of innovative projects. SprintProject has notably enabled Umains to support a logistics player in the second life of unsold or “unsaleable” stocks (particularly network returns). From now on, we have a turnkey offer for logistics players who wish to be co-designed with a player in the sector. 


Pooling: a significant advantage

Finally, the advantage of Open Innovation projects is quite clear for both parties (the start-up and the large group): 

  1. Reduction of project cost
  2. Risk reduction
  3. Acceleration of the innovation process


Open Innovation: a tool for the environmental transition of large companies? 

We have clearly understood that Open Innovation allows large companies to have a vision and understanding of the broader market and ultimately to accelerate “time-to-market”. We also know that the next reputational and therefore economic opportunities are on the environmental level.

 So are you going to take your place on the Open Innovation train so as not to miss the next turning point? Umains sincerely invites you! 



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