February 11, 2016

Open Cultures and Open Innovation

This blog entry contains an assignment for the seminar Open Science: The Better Science, teached by Prof. Katja Mayer at the Department for Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna. (November, 2015).

By Daniel Marante

- Summarize the Open Innovation model as described by Chesbrough, and locate the role of universities and other public research organization in this model. Reflect briefly in one paragraph potential obstacles, challenges or benefits from this model.

The author highlights the bond between Open Science and Open Innovation. He argues that business is the answer to this gap that currently exists between both ends. He sustains that an entrepreneurial risk-taking model is needed to define the most promising application of science and knowledge. He argues, too, that an Open Science and Open Innovation sustainable model should be based on Mertonian Norms, where CUDOS principles rule the normative standard of action. In particular, Chesbrough argues that open source software, is leading to a “citizen science” era, in which scientific contribution can be truly made, fulfilling at the same time Mertonian principles. Examples of this are to be found in organizations such as CERN. But, the author argues that Open Science does not necessarily imply Open Innovation, because institutions that promote the former sometimes do not work to promote the latter. That is why, different incentives and contexts are needed, but this could be hard since applying knowledge can be ambiguous, involve making judgments and taking risks in unexplored domains. Thus, private sector stood up to undertake knowledge application (instead of basic research) and therefore a model of closed innovation was established.

But nowadays the scenario has changed. The author argues that universities are not only interested in creating knowledge, but in applying it. This has torn down knowledge application monopolies created by industry, while opening a broad way to a better distribution of valuable information. This is clear when looking at patent distribution statistics, where the percentage of patents attributed to individuals and small firms has been increased in comparison to the ones attributed to big players in the industry.

To capitalize this modern era, in terms of a systematic open innovation environment, the author states that abundant knowledge is a must within the model, so inflows and outflows of this knowledge, accelerate internal innovation and expand the markets of application. Such a model also should combine internal and external ideas into platforms and architectures, where business models define the requirements for these systems.

There are two models of open innovation: Outside-in, which involves opening up a company’s innovation process to external inputs (CERN embodies this model) and Inside- out, which are less popular and requires organizations to allow un-explored ideas to go outside the organizations for other to use in their businesses. Such a model would require incentives like collaboration through markets, exchange of knowledge, intellectual property rights and startup formation, that would integrate technologies together into solutions and new systems. Alongside, Universities should function, as the locus for the discoveries and basic research, but within the system is important to delegate the application phase to other experienced actors with business models in mind.

As the author mentions, I wonder how such a model, and particularly the commercialization of ideas issue, would cope with the pervasive for-profit behavior the industry has. How competitiveness would work under such a model. How would it be for consulting industry, for which knowledge is actually their product?

Chesbrough, H. (2015). From Open Science to Open Innovation. Science Business Publishing. 

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