Creating added value by innovating together: business models built through open innovation can yield rich rewards

Dynamic and creative small firms can dominate tough markets by forging innovation partnerships to create and capture value from new opportunities even if they are low- or medium-tech companies. Difficult market conditions force small and medium-sized firms to adapt or reinvent their businesses through new technologies or unique value propositions, but they often lack resources and technical capabilities and must thus collaborate with others to compete.

Those that succeed in this transition often employ “open innovation” – using the knowledge of external partners to create new products and services, or licensing their technology to others.

A study by Dr Wim Vanhaverbeke, in collaboration with Ine Vermeersch and Stijn De Zutter found that open innovation can create new opportunities for all types of SMEs – from start-ups in high-tech markets to players in traditional markets – because they can change business models without having the required technologies in-house.

Key actors in 10 diverse Flemish, Dutch and Danish SMEs that changed strategy were interviewed and revealed how they devised new business models to leverage value from technologies in other organisations or co-developed with partners.

This analysis of a phenomenon well known among large companies is the first anywhere to focus in depth on the little-understood theme of how SMEs employ open innovation.

About Flanders DC

Flanders District of Creativity is the Flemish organisation for business creativity. It was founded by the Flemish Government as a non-profit organization and enjoys broad support. Flemish businesses, academics, and public institutions use Flanders DC as a platform for cooperation and for building a more creative region. Creativity is the key ingredient in making companies more successful and in helping regional governments fuel a healthy economy with more jobs.

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