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Can Open Innovation Shape the Future of the Welsh Economy?

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The term ‘innovation’ gets thrown around constantly in modern day business; meaning different things to different people. However, in recent years, the term ‘Open Innovation’ has become more apparent; especially in the world of product development.

Developed by Henry Chesbrough in the early 2000s, the concept highlights the worth of using outside sources of innovation to improve one’s own product or service; a theory that many 21st century businesses are now exploring.

Utilising the help of people outside your own internal network can boast various benefits; a way to actively incorporate the wider community into your innovation management strategy. Chesbrough defined Open Innovation as:

“[Open Innovation is ] a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology”.

Whilst the ability to outsource and acquire services is not a new thing, leveraging the power of Open Innovation in product design is particularly interesting. ITERATE, a Welsh product design agency, believes Open Innovation should be at the heart of the Welsh economy.

Gethin Roberts, Managing Director of the business, says:

“Within today’s business environment, collaboration is an essential ingredient for survival. The products we are developing are constantly increasing in technical complexity, and our customers expect complete end-to-end solutions to be delivered faster than ever before. In order for us to offer a first-class product design service we need to collaborate and share ideas with technical experts, manufacturers, funding bodies, government departments and academic institutes around the globe. “

If you are looking to commercialise an idea, then an Open Innovation strategy may be beneficial. Below are a few benefits to employing such a policy:

  • Bringing skills, expertise and experience together
  • Complementing resources and talent
  • Increasing speed to market
  • Lowering cost and risk
  • Defining objectives, roles and timings effectively
  • Enhancing communication between the team

What is Wales doing in the shape of Open Innovation?

There are many campaigns for Open Innovation projects being carried out across Wales. Just last month, brands such Cardiff University, Airbus and Welsh Government collaborated for the CoInnovate event in the Mercure Hotel House, Cardiff.

In addition to this annual event, Welsh Government has made continuous efforts to fly the flag for collaborative working; one being the SMART Innovation programme. The programme is structured around a team of ‘Innovation Specialists’ that help businesses become more innovative and competitive; the programme provides support to Welsh businesses and research organisations.

Gethin Roberts explains how ITERATE help support the Welsh Government in the delivery of the SMART Innovation programme:

“As its part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, we are able to work with Welsh businesses free of charge for up to five days. In the past, we have helped organisations create new product concepts, overcome specific technical challenges and identify alternative materials, markets and suppliers.”

If you are looking for product development support, visit the ITERATE website today. There you can access details of all of their services including; New Product Development, Engineering Design, 3D CAD and Simulation, Rapid Prototyping, Manufacture and Assembly and much more.