The 2010 Open Innovation Accelerator Study, by Kathleen Diener and Frank Piller
Behind the term open innovation is a powerful message: Successful innovation is often created in a cooperative mode with external actors. But which is the right method for open innovation? Which are the criteria to plan an open innovation project? Which intermediary or service provider has specific knowledge and expertise in, e.g., crowdsourcing, the lead user method, Netnography, idea contests, technology scouting, or broadcast search?
For the first time, this report provides a comprehensive analysis of the service providers and platforms for open innovation. These intermediaries can help organizations to accelerate their open innovation initiative – this is why we call them Open Innovation Accelerators (OIA). We take a detailed look on their methods, cost, and project structures.
Our motivation to conduct the research for this report was to support a manager's decisions when planning an open innovation venture. Managers shall gain an overview of the intermediaries available for open innovation from a global perspective and will get advice how to identify partners for their project in a directed way.
The report is based on hundreds of interviews with experts and service providers, survey data and self reports from companies specialized in facilitating open innovation, and extensive secondary data. An extensive appendix provides detailed information about each particular open innovation service provider.
The market space of Open Innovation Accelerators (OIA): We find that OIAs operate globally due to the virtual characteristic of the business. The broad distribution of open innovation application over industry sectors demonstrates that this approach is not limited to certain branches or sectors. However, most recent projects were targeted to the B-to-C market. Most OIAs focus their service on both B-to-B and B-to-C markets.
Methods of open innovation approaches OIAs offer: We distinguish three main service approaches for open innovation – managing communities, providing special (social) software, or operating as an open innovation consulting agency. The community approach is the predominant service offered among all surveyed OIAs (84%). Yet we find combinations. In 37% of the cases the accelerators tend to offer a minimum two different approaches. About 44% of the surveyed OIAs are mainly consultants and community managers. 43% of all OIAs run competitions (mostly idea contests). Nearly 34% of the accelerators apply workshops (mostly brainstorming), often of different workshop types. Most of the OIAs offer tools and methods from several categories to accomplish their services.
Average costs for OIA services: Most OIAs demonstrate a good level of experience when taking the average number of completed projects in relation to the time of business activities. In average, they execute 75-167 projects per year with an average duration of three month (up to 24 month).
We find five different approaches for structuring the OIAs’ profit models: Charging a product license fee, billing person days, a subscription based model, charging a service or success fee, or demanding a posting fee. Prices float within a wide range. The overall minimum stated in our survey is $15 for an account, the maximum $400,000 for a consulting project. In average, an open innovation accelerator asks $25,000 for one project.
The development of the OIA market: The market of intermediaries for open innovation is rather young. More than 80% of the OIAs have been founded later than 2000. Today, new providers of open innovation methods and services are constantly emerging. Others are going out of business at the same time. Some fields, like offering brainstorming platforms and access to user communities, are highly competitive. We find a few already well established accelerators like Hyve, Idea Crossing, InnoCentive, Nine Sigma, Your Encore, Yet2.com.
Yet in general, the entire market is still under development and far away from being consolidated. The future will show which OIA has the right business model and successful projects to survive on that market.
The 2010 report "The Market of Open Innovation" provides decision makers strategic support when setting up an open innovation initiative in their organization:
- Different methods for open innovation,
- The dynamics and success factors of an open innovation initiative,
- Typical project structures and project cost of an open innovation initiative facilitated by external service providers,
- A comprehensive overview of 49 service providers specialized in open innovation.
*Note: Why is this study so expensive? We invested about two person years in conducting the research underlying the study. So we believe this is a fair amount compared to the work a company would have to perform to get this kind of information. The proceeds from this report will support future research of our PhD students and sponsor their participation at international academic conferences. It will also support exchange visits of graduate students from and to Aachen. However, for students and academics interested in the report, there is a special discount. Please contact me for further information (firstname.lastname@example.org).