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Open and Internal Innovation – a Perfect Partnership?

Hannah Page

Chief Operating Officer

At L Marks, we have worked with some of the world’s largest companies, creating over 70 innovation programmes across the globe. We have worked on both sides of the innovation sphere. Our Innovation Lab and Fusion programmes have harnessed open innovation to drive collaboration between organisations and the startup and scale-up ecosystem to embed new technologies and fuel business growth.

Meanwhile our Intra-Labs and Venture Building Studios have been empowering and equipping employees to develop new solutions from within the organisation. Through this experience we have seen the benefits of both open and internal innovation and below highlights some of the insights we have gathered along the way.

The what, how and why of Open Innovation

Open innovation is the idea that you can learn and progress more as a business if you lean on and learn from others outside your organisation. It is about collaborating with other businesses, networks and experts. We enable companies to run Open Innovation programmes by providing them the opportunity to work with startups and experts from our networks. We find startups who have solutions that meet their challenge and opportunity areas as well as external advisors and mentors who can offer a new perspective or challenge existing thinking within the organisation or market.

Open Innovation gives you the opportunity to:

  • Drive value through gaining early exposure to cutting-edge technologies, growing revenue with the launch of new transformational products and services and entering into new commercial relationships.
  • Tackle business challenges and integrate solutions to improve customer experience and operational efficiencies.
  • Inspire and develop your people through embedding innovation across an organisation and cultivate an entrepreneurial, solution-oriented ethos in the business and challenge your company’s talent.
  • Boost your brand as a leader in innovation and digital transformation.

The what, how and why of Internal Innovation

Internal Innovation is change that happens within your organisation. Through our Intra-Labs we work with teams from within an organisation or industry to educate them in innovation processes and create a structure to enable them to take an idea and create a business over a set period of time. Venture Build Studios enable your people or an external team to build a revenue generating business, validating an idea, testing assumptions and finding paying customers.

Internal Innovation gives you the opportunity to:

  • Fosters a culture of innovation and leadership to effectively drive change from within.
  • Equips your people through educating them and building new skills and experiences of your employees.
  • Enables the business to drive bottom-line growth from the passion of employees and the things they see everyday within their roles.

Is it a perfect partnership?

There is no silver bullet to innovation and change. Similarly, it’s important to continuously move forward and explore new ways of driving transformation and growth across businesses and sectors. Organisations can thrive by capitalising on both the global development of new technologies and solutions together with the experience, expertise and skills of their own talent.

Open Innovation and Internal Innovation have a lot of overlap in terms of outcomes and some of the themes we see across both are:

  • Keeping great talent as people feel part of an organisation who are flexible and are moving forward.
  • Ensuring you don’t get left behind or blindsided by new players and in the best examples being the new player yourself in one form or another.
  • Adapting to the ever changing needs and expectations of your customers.

It really is a perfect partnership – don’t pick one or the other, both have different strengths and a combination of the two sets an organisation up to succeed.  The most successful businesses we work with are those who are continually asking themselves what is next:

  • What else should we be looking at?
  • How do we innovate what we do today while keeping a lens and some resources looking at what the business will need to look like in 5 – 10 years time?
  • What disruptors are around the corner and how can we become them, buy them or create them with the resources we have at our disposal?