Open Innovation Patterns

Open Innovation and the quadruple helix. How citizen innovation can augment the triple helix of universities, industry and government.

I am currently researching models and patterns for successful Open Innovation, with a particular focus on technology clusters. A number of interesting patterns and resources below…

The Triple Helix model, designed by Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (2000), focuses on the relations of universities, industry and governments.

CLiQ promotes a Quadruple Helix innovation approach which essentially adds the citizen engagement dimension to the Triple Helix of universities, industry and government.

Citizen Innovation and Open Innovation

The Quadruple Helix – Citizen Engagement in local innovation


In the creation of dynamic Open Innovation ecosystems, matchmaking is a key function. The Sussex Innovation Centre New Product Network is an interesting example of this pattern in action:

Sussex Innovation Centre’s New Product Network actively seeks out and matches potential buyers for the products of its tenant companies. The Centre staff has to understand the portfolio of SME products and think laterally about how to sell them. They identify and even create a demand from a network of established businesses by asking ‘What are your problems/challenges?’ When the team successfully matches what a larger business needs to expertise in the start-ups, there is a potential route through to the market. For example, in a meeting with British Airways it emerged that the airline was seeking IT solutions for baggage handling processes and social networking for the Executive Club. This intelligence was passed on to start-ups on site and introductions were made. These links enable start-up companies to get feedback on products at an early stage from potential buyers and even engage in joint development to adapt the product exactly to the buyers’ needs.

SINC staff find ways to open doors in bigger companies. The Centre’s credibility means companies in the network will listen, give a window and take the call, which may not happen for an unknown SME. Connecting start-ups to supply chains and getting the first customer is the biggest difference incubators can make to an SME.

There are undoubtedly interesting business models for dedicated matchmaking, and ‘ad hoc’ matchmaking. I am interested in how we can stimulate ‘serendipity’ either through virtual interaction, or Open Innovation spaces.

New Frontiers in Open Innovation

Open Innovation Spaces

Munktell Science Park in Eskilstuna provides a case study about the ‘importance of physical space’ for Open Innovation. This makes for an interesting hypothesis as to whether virtual clusters are ‘innovation disadvantaged’.

In Munktell Science Park in Eskilstuna the starting point for innovation is environment, culture and attitude. The people who rent space in the building are called “heroes”, not tenants. As well as providing space, the Science Park runs a range of different innovation initiatives including idea competitions, business training, and 24-hour races for new business ideas. The onsite incubator helps growth-oriented companies, for instance by plugging them in to business coaching, a Business Angel network and a new internationalisation forum.

The Science Park is based in a converted factory, which has been beautifully re-designed to reinforce the open innovation ethos and to serve the function of a welcoming, interdisciplinary place that creates interactions and networks. Around 30,000 citizens and visitors are welcomed each year. The features of the physical space itself contribute to the culture inside. Open innovation spaces lead to open participation, open experience, open deliver.

I take the view that ‘online relationships’ amplify offline relationships and trust is more easily established through face-to-face networking and proximity. Is the creation of a shared space in an innovation cluster critical to the success of Open Innovation? An interesting study would contrast pure-virtual, versus physical clusters and their Open Innovation outcomes.

Frugal Innovation: How to do better with less


CliQBoost is an interesting approach to mapping out the innovation ecosystem and using this as a guiding factor in the stimulation of further relationships. There is overlap potential with Social Network Analysis and innovation outcomes, possibly driven by developments like the Tech City Map (of the Tech City cluster in Shoreditch, East London).

Insight Strategy Stakeholder (ISS) maps are a tool to describe the key innovation related features of a city or region to allow comparative analysis. They provide a quick snapshot of other partners for each of the CLIQ members. The Insight section includes a profile, strengths and the unique selling point, sector specialisation and other defining characteristics. The Strategy section succinctly defines the main goals. The Stakeholder section maps the main stakeholder relationships in a diagrammatic representation, including stakeholders and other local actors who play a key role in innovation and entrepreneurship but with whom the partner has no (or only minimal) relationship. In essence, the stakeholder map aims to illustrate the local innovation ecosystem.

The ISS maps are a good tool to summarise key factors of the innovation systems in a readily understandable and comparable format, and to improve and drive forward connections between key stakeholders groups.

A comparison between CliQBoost analytics and the Tech City Map analytics (as one example) would provide interesting insight in best practices for profiling innovation cluster participants and potential. Maximisation of this potential (in terms of innovation and business success) would undoubtedly be of great interest to Business Angels and government ‘investors’.

Further Reading on Innovation and Open Innovation

By Steve Nimmons

Steve is a Certified European Engineer, Chartered Engineer, Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Royal Society of Arts, Linnean Society and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He is an Electric Circle Patron of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a Liveryman and Freeman of London and serves on numerous industry panels. He is a member of Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the Chartered Institute of Journalists.