#onetake – Open Innovation during COVID-19: What can we learn from best practice?

5th May 2020

Innovation is often borne out of necessity, where hardship and shocks give birth to a diversity of new thinking. The dramatic impact and upheaval of coronavirus has inspired innovation across all walks of life, from education to manufacturing to business change.

Open Innovation is all about looking outside your organisation, using the power and knowledge of the crowd to solve a problem. In this podcast, we explain why it’s so important right now, and we share the 3 key things to get right for your organisation to make the most of it.


3 Key considerations for best practice Open Innovation…

      1. Setting the right incentives

This is an oft-overlooked driver of successful Open Innovation; correct incentives drive profound results. Whether that’s through a financial incentive – such as those typically found on Kaggle competitions – or more intrinsic ones, such as those seen with open source software, it’s important to understand and provide the right incentives for people to take part.

      2. Coordinating efforts and providing the platform

When we see efforts that involve external stakeholders, or crowds, there can be sometimes be a instinct to put something out there and see what happens however, organisers of Open Innovation need to play an important role in ensuring that the crowds are as effective as they can be. This means ensuring the right questions are asked, and that products and services emerging from Open Innovation are reliable, safe and effective.

      3. Choosing the right solution

Organisations need to have a good understanding of the outcome they are looking for, before jumping to a solution. There are several ways in which you can drive the correct type of Open Innovation, which are largely dependent on two key variables:

  1. the openness of the OI problem itself, and
  2. the distribution of the expertise needed to solve the problem.

Depending on the extent of these two variables, a different type of coordination, incentive and participation will be required:

There are a couple of options available to organisations with highly specialised expertise which isn’t widely available:

  • Consortia: The innovation challenge may be of relevance to the wider community around you; your sector or industry, for instance. However, the expertise required to solve the challenge is limited. Creating a consortium of similar companies can be a way of maximising the potential for the available expertise.
  • In-house Innovation: Unfortunately, it may be the case that there are barriers present to opening up an Innovation problem to those outside your organisation. These could be data protection restrictions, or highly specialised expertise which only exists internally. In this case, the problem can only be approached internally.

But the real power of Open Innovation is harnessed when expertise is widely available:

  • Competitions: These are a way of limiting what is released into a community – for example, when an organisation would like to generate lots of ideas on a topic, or would like to brainstorm ways of solving a very specific problem. Hackathons are a good example of this.
  • Community-driven Innovation: This is the gold standard in Open Innovation, and what organisations should aim for. This draws expertise from across the world, from different professions, and invites participation from adjacent industries to bring true diversity in innovation to a challenge.


We challenge businesses to ask themselves “How can I be as Open as possible?” – removing barriers and enabling as distributed an expertise as possible to contribute to a challenge. We are passionate about this topic and have our own suggestions and expertise on how to make this possible.

If you’d like to continue this conversation, please reach out to us at contact@axiaorigin.com – we’d love to hear from you.